Be the Salt and the Light!
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16
The 2021 Saturday Trunk-or-Treat event was not a success by coincidence. It was all about good and simple planning, strategy, design and of course, plenty of congregation volunteers. Our church knows parents would appreciate a free, safe, easy alternative to the traditional Trick or Treat night. An afternoon Trunk or Treat event allows kids to have all the fun of Halloween while reducing some of the hazards they face walking door-to-door. The event also provides access to Halloween festivities for families who do not live in a typical residential neighborhood.
During September, we collaborated on promotional activities to include church web site and Facebook notifications, public service announcements, signage, newspaper bulletins and feature articles. Church organizers solicited donations by placing a candy drop off station near the administration office to supplement the chocolate inventory. Due to the strong possibility of inclement weather, a Rain Date was made for Sunday, however the Good Lord provided for a rain free occasion and only a drizzle arrived at the conclusion of the afternoon activity. On event day, ministry leaders pre-staged their harvest theme decorated vehicle trunks loaded with traditional Halloween treats. Photographers were on site to capture the special moments.
Our small church parking lot was strategically laid out to handle fifteen vans and SUV’s, numerous games and one humongous RWB garbage disposal truck from Boyce also distributing treats. Entrance and traffic flow signs were liberally placed to keep families moving in the proper direction and make the best use of limited space. The large parking lot across Germain Street provided ample space and traffic control was managed by volunteers who routed visitors to the entrance on Filbert Street and exiting cars via Germain Street. A volunteer guided families through the crosswalk which allowed for a steady stream of children seeking Halloween treats while providing proper safety management. Two Stephens City police cruisers, maintained traffic control around the church property area streets during the Trunk-or-Treat.
This was a “Main Street” event and parents brought their children by car and many town locals came by foot, dressed in costume, collecting candy as they visited each car, all located in one parking lot. The Trunk-or-Treat event comprised a wide range of activities including tossing a Velcro ball to stick to a pumpkin, carrying an eyeball in a spoon across the great church lawn, lobbing a beanbag into hula hoops and of course, the now mandatory, Corn Hole. Visitors could register for the hundred-dollar, fifty dollar and twenty-five-dollar gift cards. Artist Michael Bulley, created balloon animals for the kids. Children patiently waited in long lines to receive over 200 balloons and were ever fascinated by the magic from the timeless art of balloon twisting and balloon animals. Mr. Bulley is a fund-raising member of the Disabled American Veterans Department of Virginia, Chapter 9, Winchester. Attendance was estimated at between 300-400 people.
Children entering from the west parking lot had the opportunity to take photos with Sparky the Fire Dog. Stephens City Fire and Rescue provided an engine on site which included tours of the customized equipment used during firefighting operations and members to assist with the static display. Kids met firefighters and learned about fire safety basics. The fire truck blared its siren at precisely 1 PM to commence the Trunk-or-Treat activity and again at 3 PM to conclude the candy give-away. The Trunk-or-Treat Costume Parade began at 3 PM along the sidewalks on Main, Filbert and Germain Streets. Church Elders carried the new SCUMC banner. The parade had oversight provided by Stephens City police cruiser escort. The cruisers, with lights flashing, led and trailed the parade, offering caution to pedestrians and safety awareness to vehicle traffic along the short route. The parade, with spectators lining the streets, provided children an exciting opportunity to play act what it is like to transform into someone or something else for one afternoon.
Pastor Bertina Westley had the chance to meet with visitors who were unfamiliar with our church or who once attended in the past. Pastor took the opportunity to speak with these families and let them know about other events we are planning and about possibly registering with our pre-school, daycare, senior center, bible study, vacation bible school, and STEM camp with an open heart to God’s Word. She also asked for suggestions on how next year’s Trunk or Treat could be improved. Pastor believes with continued careful planning, Trunk-or-Treat can easily become an event that the entire Stephens City neighborhood looks forward to each year. May God bless our church as we actively demonstrate generosity, care and compassion for the Stephens City community.