Costume-bedecked children strolled from car to car collecting goodies that ranged from toys to stickers to temporary tattoos as part of Lynbrook’s fourth annual Trunk-or-Treat event Sunday afternoon in Greis Park.
The event has become a Halloweenweek tradition in Lynbrook, and was brought to the village by Georgina Cornago Cipriano, in memory of her late son, Giovanni.
On Oct. 18, 2013, Giovanni had a severe allergic reaction to peanuts, which put him in a coma for three weeks, and he eventually died.
Cornago Cipriano said she was unable to find the EpiPen she carried with her on the way to the hospital after Giovanni, who was severely allergic to peanuts, unknowingly ate something with them in it.
In addition to The Love for Giovanni Foundation and the Friends Helping Friends Food Allergy Support Group, Cornago Cipriano brought the Trunk-or-Treat event to Lynbrook as a way to make Halloween safe for those who have food allergies.
“For kids who have food allergies, Halloween can be a very scary thing,” she said. “Many families don’t like to go out trick-or-treating. If they take one wrong bite, it could be life threatening.”
The event started small, but in its fourth year, about 170 people attended, including some residents of New Jersey and Connecticut and many local elected officials. Cornago Cipriano said organizers make sure that the outing remains a non-food event, so instead of candy, those who participate received toys and other trinkets. The event was open to everyone, not just those who have food allergies, though Cornago Cipriano noted the number of children dealing with food allergies is on the rise.
She added that it was an important event because it embraced her son’s love for Halloween.
“Halloween was one of Giovanni’s favorite holidays,” she said. “He died on Oct. 18, so we wanted to put everything together to do something to honor him and to create an event to make this a very safe spot for kids with food allergies to come out, have some fun and be the same as the other kids.”
Each year, attendees decorate their trunks for the occasion and open them up in honor of Giovanni. Teal pumpkins decorate the area, a symbol of food allergy awareness.
Cornago Ciprinao recalled that Giovanni loved hanging out with friends during Halloween and enjoyed dressing up in costumes. One of his favorite costumes was that of a clown.
With nearly 200 attendees for his year’s event, Cornago Cipriano said she is excited about how far it has come.
“It’s heart-warming,” she said. “It’s bitter sweet. We would love for him to be here to be able to see, but obviously he’s not and I’m sure he’s looking down and he’s smiling on everyone and just, I think, he helps to bring everyone together and helps to give us some love.”