Halloween fun will be available from 5 to 7 p.m. today out of the car trunks of volunteers thanks to the Trunk or Treat event in the parking lot of the Elks Lodge on Pleasant Street in Rutland hosted by the Rutland County Child First Advocacy Center and the Elks.
The free event is taking place for the first time this year. Children and families can come to the lot at 44 Pleasant St. and get candy and other seasonal treats served out of the trunks of vehicles parked in the lot.
Wendy Loomis, executive director of the center, known as the CFAC, said the event will go on regardless of weather conditions.
If the weather is mild, she said she expects some of the volunteers, which as of Wednesday included about 24 drivers, will provide music from their vehicles.
If the weather is harsh, Loomis said the event will take place inside the Elks Lodge.
No matter the weather, Loomis said she expects candy, treats such as popcorn balls, hamburgers and hot dogs and a bicycle raffle will be part of the event.
Loomis said the goal was to create an event that is “safe, fun and sort-of participant controlled.” Rather than bringing costumed kids to the doors of strangers, families can bring them to the Elks Lodge where volunteer participants are known to the staff at the CFAC or the members of the Elks Lodge.
Loomis said in the rural neighborhood in Shrewsbury where she grew up, there wasn’t a concentration of homes for kids to visit “door-to-door” in the way that if often associated with a traditional Halloween. Instead, they went to the Town Hall in a way that was very similar to what’s planned for tonight’s event, Loomis said.
“Parents would come, bring their kids. Be outside. Have a trunk decorated and you would just go from car to car. We’d have music and cider and things like that. It’s an attempt to duplicate the feel of what we used to do,” she said.
While Loomis said the organizers knew the volunteers, she was not suggesting parents give up their role in overseeing what children collect and eat.
Loomis said the idea was developed locally and wasn’t directly based on any other similar events from other child advocacy centers. The goal of today’s Trunk or Treat is to be successful enough that it becomes an annual tradition.
Loomis said she appreciated the member of the Elks who embraced the idea and provided a site.
“Really, they spearheaded getting things going.” Loomis said. “They did a lot of the work.”
Having the kids come to a central location where they can socialize and show off their costumes allows the event to maintain the community feeling of the holiday, Loomis pointed out.
Celebrating Halloween is also a way to show a different side of the CFAC, which is often a place for children to speak with law-enforcement officers who are investigating crimes, usually with young victims.
“This isn’t a fundraiser. This isn’t an ‘I’m going to talk to you about our organization.’ This is an opportunity for us to give back as well, along with the Elks,” she said.
Loomis said there wasn’t a restriction on the age or residency for the children who are participating. She said it’s not an event for families to drop off their kids and leave.
Attempts to reach a member of the local Elks involved in the event were unsuccessful on Wednesday.