Trunk or Treat

Click images to see the Trunk or Treat photo gallery

A Pandemic Halloween

by Director of Children’s Ministry Amanda Wischkaemper

I love teaching kids about some of Halloween’s connections to the church. (Hallows=Saints! All Hallows Eve=the night before All Saints Day!) The Book of Occasional Services even contains a liturgy for All Hallows Eve, to which I usually add this traditional Scottish prayer:

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!

….but in these times, perhaps this is more apt:

From aerosols and droplets

and super-spread maskless

and fewer than six feet away,

Good Lord, deliver us!

It’s been almost nine months since our lives were upended…but necessity is the mother of invention, and families have found creative solutions and virtual workarounds for work, worship, school, and play. None of this is normal or easy.

From the beginning, I’ve heard from parents, “When can we be together in person?” “They miss their friends.” “Could we try Sunday school outside and masked?” “My kids are SO TIRED of looking at a computer screen.” As we found a way forward with Communion groups, outdoor funeral services, and limited on-site ministry, I began to imagine a way we could safely celebrate Halloween in-person.

“Trunk or Treat” events have been around since the ’90s; they’re common among suburban churches and other denominations, but neither St. David’s nor I had ever hosted one! In a Trunk or Treat, volunteers decorate their car trunk or truck bed with a particular theme. Children trick or treat, with cars subbing in for houses. A Trunk or Treat on our surface parking lot seemed like a great option to safely celebrate All Hallows Eve, while honoring local and Diocesan safety requirements, and our Baptismal call to love our neighbor.

Our inaugural St. David’s Trunk or Treat was great fun, and a smashing success. Pre-registration was mandatory to stagger attendance and limit capacity. Masks were required, along with temperature checks and health questionnaires. 6’ distances were marked with chalk, and our “Trail of Treats” moved in one direction to minimize traffic. The surface lot was graced with imaginative scenes of the Land of Oz, Austin skyline as Gotham/Metropolis, the Kingdom of Arandelle, Super Mario Brothers, Baby Shark, and more. Over 90 children and adults attended, including Hamilton’s Schuyler sisters, a giant roll of toilet paper, Harry Potter, Dorothy and friends, Frozen characters, a family of vampires, a family of superheroes, Coco Chanel(!), and many others. The Angel Gabriel (aka Father Chuck) even made an appearance! It was a joy to see our families in costume, with abundant smiles, apparent even behind masks! All kept their distance, but were delighted to be together on a beautiful Fall day.

The consensus? Let’s do it again! Jenny Campbell, Laura Faulk, and I were supported by a great crew of youth volunteers, generous parishioner “trunk hosts,” and sexton David Shumaker; all were invaluable to the event’s success. Trunk or Treat will be back next year, and hopefully a new tradition for St. David’s!

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