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Towns try a Halloween alterative: Trunk or Treat

VERGENNES — It can be challenging for parents in rural Addison County communities to scare up some Halloween fun for their kids every year. Trick or treating often means piling the little ghouls and goblins into the car for a series of short jaunts to homes spread throughout the community, or taking them to high density neighborhoods in other towns to fill up their bags in short order.
Well, parents in a handful of Addison County towns believe they have found a safe solution for trick-or-treaters to get their fill of sweets locally and in a fun, supervised setting that allows parents, seniors and businesses to get in on the act, too.
It’s called “trunk or treat,” an event through which parents, schools and/or civic organizations invite people to decorate their vehicle trunks with all the trappings of Halloween — including candy, of course, which is passed out to trick-or-treaters at a central location. It’s not a replacement for the “real” Halloween on Oct. 31, but allows kids and adults to share in an experience that usually sees trick-or-treaters fan out in many different directions.
The Friends of Leicester School will be sponsoring the second annual “Trunk or Treat” event for local school children on Friday, Oct. 26. It’s an event the school launched last year in concert with the town’s 250th birthday. More than a dozen community members decorated the trunks of their cars and dished out candy to a great turnout of Leicester school kids. A local dentist donated toothbrushes and toothpaste to safeguard against all the cavity-causing candy.
“We organized (the cars) in a semi-circle,” said Heather LaPorte, a parent and organizer of the Leicester event. “The kids were able to fill their bags.”
And this year’s trunk or treat will be even bigger, LaPorte said. That’s because the parents’ group will be teaming up with the local Foxcroft Farm Harvest Program on Delorme Road, which will host the event along with some carnival games, face painting, pumpkin painting, corn maze and other activities. Participants are being asked to assemble at the Harvest Program at 4:45 p.m., according to LaPorte.
“We are hoping for great weather,” she said.
Bridport will also be getting into the Halloween spirit with its version of trunk or treat on Oct. 26. Trunk-or-treat vehicles are being asked to assemble at Bridport Central School parking lot at 6 p.m. Bridport children will come and trick-or-treat from car to car from 6:15 to 7 p.m., according to Katie Welch of the Bridport Parent-Teacher Organization, which is sponsoring the event.
Last year’s first-ever trunk or treat event in Bridport drew around 50 children.
“It gives a chance for kids to see each other in their costumes,” Welch said. “It is a nice, friendly environment. People are enjoying it.”
At 7 p.m., participants will go into the school for a Halloween costume dance.
Meanwhile, the Vergennes American Legion Junior Auxiliary and Auxiliary Unit 14 will host its second annual trunk or treat event in the parking lot of its Armory Lane headquarters, from 3 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 28. It’s being billed as a safe alternative to conventional trick or treating and is done in a roped-off area of the lot. Parents, businesses and community members will register to bring their cars and candy to distribute from their decorated trunk. Kids will be led to the parking area and will go car to car for treats. Organizer Martha DeGraaf explained the event is not only fun for the children, it also puts a smile on the faces of people who live out of town and don’t get trick-or-treaters.
It is also a good way to promote one’s business, civic organization or church, and is done in the daylight so that children return home before dark.
“Last year, it was a huge success,” said DeGraaf, who is also president of Vergennes Post 14 auxiliary.
“Our goal was (to serve) 50 children; we got over 150.”
The Legion Auxiliary’s trunk or treat featured some very creative trunk decorations. DeGraaf, who runs her own day care business,  placed a pretend baby in a portable crib in the trunk of her van, which she decorated with spider webs. Other entries borrowed from Dr. Seuss, the disco era and a culinary theme.
This year, DeGraaf and some of her young helpers will be decorating a patriotic trunk, in recognition of the recently concluded Olympics and the 2012 election. The Vergennes trunk or treat event is free and open to parents and children in the Addison Northwest Supervisory Union area. It will be preceded by a Family Halloween Costume Karaoke Dance Party, from 1 to 3 p.m., in the Post 14 Legion hall.
Anyone wanting to register a vehicle for the Vergennes trunk or treat should contact DeGraaf at 877-9986 or email marsulli@aol.com. Participating vehicles must come with their own candy, treats and decorations.
MORE LITTLE CITY FUN
Trunk or treat is but one Halloween-related event to take place in Vergennes this weekend.
On Saturday, Oct. 27, the city will celebrate “Pumpkins in the Park and More … Big Pumpkin Fun in the Little City.” This annual event will include spooky stories at the Bixby Memorial Library and trick-or-treating on Main Street. In the morning, the Vergennes Lions Club will be sponsoring 1-mile and 5K costume races through the streets of Vergennes. The race will start and end at Vergennes Union Elementary School, with cash prizes awarded for overall top finishers, Best Overall Costume, Best Superhero, Best TV/Movie Star and Best Overall team/family. Also new this year is “The Great Pumpkin Cook-Off,” with prizes awarded for best pumpkin dessert and best savory creation in both the adult and youth (under 18) categories.
After judging is complete, any remaining food will be sold, with all proceeds benefiting The Vergennes Community Food Shelf?. On Saturday evening, a kids’ Halloween safety presentation will be held at the fire station. The Vergennes Police Department will be giving away free reflective bags and glow sticks to be used on Halloween. The evening will conclude with the lighting and judging of the pumpkins at City Park. For more information, to download a registration form for any of the events or to view a full list of the schedule of the ghostly happenings, visit www.VergennesDowntown.org.
Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com.

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