Friday, October 30, 2020

Drive-Thru Trunk or Treat’ a bloodcurdling sensation in Windham

The Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce,
which co-hosted Saturday's 'Drive-Thru Trunk or
Treat' event with Windham Parks and Recreation,
crafted an equally unique and spooky trunk.
By Ed Pierce

In a year unlike any other, children unable to go trick or treating during the pandemic found their Halloween spirit and a bit of ghastly fright during Windham’s Drive-Thru Trunk or Treat” held Oct. 24 at the Windham Mall behind the North Windham Hannaford.

Hosted by Windham Parks and Recreation and the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, the spooktacular “Drive-Thru Trunk or Treat” event drew about 80 pre-registered families and 160 children in eighth grade and below. As each family slowly drove past 18 different and ghoulish trunk hosts, the children received pre-packaged candy and goodies.

According to Sarah Davenport, Windham Parks and Recreation’s Youth and Family Programs Coordinator, the event remained popular in spite social distancing and families having to remain their vehicles because of CDC pandemic restrictions.

“We did have to turn away a few families, as we had already maximized our capacity in order to allow as many families as possible to pre-register,” Davenport said. “We also received very positive feedback from the public, particularly from folks who appreciated the attention to details in planning and observing the CDC precautions in order to host such an event. We look forward to next year with the hope that we will be able to welcome more families and expand on a great Halloween tradition.”

Davenport said all of the trunks were terrific and eerily decorated, but the first-place winners as chosen by volunteer judges were a Haunted House trunk complete with actual haunters, a Haunted Summer Camp with a detailed activity schedule, and Mainely Ticks with a wide variety of Halloween decorations. She said that other favorites included an “It” themed trunk with Pennywise the clown, a carnival trunk, dancing inflatable unicorns and giraffes, and an “RIP sports season” trunk.

“We were very thankful to be able to partner with the Windham Mall in order to host this event and
from our perspective this was an ideal location,” Davenport said. “The trunks had adequate space to decorate and maintain appropriate distance, and the flow of traffic worked very well in this setting. The Windham Mall was a terrific host, offering us plenty of support to make this event successful.”

Linda J. Brooks, Windham Parks and Recreation Department director, said that Windham has hosted “Trunk or Treat” every year since 2017.

“We initiated it as a way to handle the growing number of people that were attending our Halloween party each year,” Brooks said. “Additionally, we recognized that since Windham has its rural areas, there are some families who wanted the benefit of seeing the kids in their costumes, but don’t traditionally get trick-or-treaters at their homes.”

In past years Brooks said that “Trunk or Treat” was just one part of our larger themed “Halloween Adventure” that included costume contests, games, refreshments and “haunted happenings.” But by 2019, the town decided to focus on the “Trunk or Treat” event alone, since it has turned out to be the best way to effectively manage so many participants.

But dealing with COVID-19 concerns and having to limit the size of what has previous been one of the town’s largest community events posed significant challenges.

“We appreciate the way that families followed the requirement to pre-register and attend at a designated time, as well as complied with the need to wear masks and remain at a safe distance,” Davenport said. “Beyond that, the trunk hosts were very creative in distributing candy while trying to keep some distance from the vehicles, which was another change due to the pandemic. The bottom line is that we were able to address these challenges because everyone involved was willing to adapt and follow the necessary precautions, which made all the difference.”

Event co-host the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce was humbled to be a part of this year’s “Drive-Thru Trunk or Treat” and the chamber’s Executive Director, Robin Mullins, said participants loved what they experienced.

“The feedback I heard as one of the participating trunks was that people were appreciative that we had the event,” Mullins said. “With so many events getting cancelled due to COVID-19, people were happy to have something safe and fun for them to do with their kids.”

Mullins said she was impressed by how much support there was in the community for this event.

“For me the biggest take away was how the community came together to be there for one another,” she said. “Trunks were assembled by businesses, nonprofits, Windham Fire and Rescue and families in the community. It was so great to see the participation from the trunks and the appreciation from the community members who attended.”

Mullins said she wanted to thank Brooks and her team at Windham Parks and Recreation for allowing the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber to partner with them for the event.

“Even though we didn’t win a prize for best trunk and watch out, next year we’ll be bigger and better, we still had a fantastic time and look forward to Trunk or Treat 2021,” Mullins said.

Davenport said that one thing she’ll take away from this experience is that even in challenging and unusual times, the town of Windham is able together to create special memories and celebrations.

“We are very fortunate to have a supportive community, and it was just very clear throughout this process that people are willing to be flexible and understanding,” she said. “I always knew that Windham was a great community, but it was just underscored during all of the planning and preparation as well as during the actual Trunk or Treat itself.”

She thanked Mullins and the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce for co-hosting and helping Windham Parks and Recreation to reimagine Trunk or Treat in the time of COVID-19.

“We would also like to thank the businesses who donated prizes for trunk hosts: Applebee’s in North Windham, Smitty’s in North Windham, and Spare Time in Portland,” Davenport said. “And we would like to thank all of the volunteers, local businesses, community organizations, and families who hosted trunks, as we couldn’t have Trunk or Treat without them.”

Submissions for the Windham Halloween Costume Contest will be judged by members of the Lions Club on Friday, and Davenport said Windham Parks and Recreation will be posting the winners on its website and social media.

“We have some great entries, and we can’t wait to share them with everyone,” Davenport said. “We want to thank Dairy Queen in North Windham for donating the costume contest prizes.” <


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