Candy heaven for children at trunk-or-treat

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Children of all ages, in all forms of costume, made their way through a Halloween candy lover’s dreamscape last Saturday at the East Meadow Chamber of Commerce’s second trunk-or-treat event. Members of the East Meadow community set up booths, some themed and some not, to hand out candy to the trick-or-treaters.

The event, which took place at the East Meadow baseball fields on Merrick Avenue, featured a one-way path for children to follow while Halloween-themed tunes were played. Everyone who took part had to pick a specific time because of Covid-19 to keep the number of people there to a minimum.

The event began last year, when Taleen Krug, a chamber member and event co-chair, started thinking of ways that her children, Christian, 6, and McKenzie, 4, could have a safe and healthy Halloween amid the pandemic.

“Everybody kept asking me if I was going to take my kids trick-or-treating,” Krug said. “I wasn’t too sure, and I thought this was a great way to maintain some social-distancing guidelines but also let the kids have a Halloween.”

Marcella Pizzo co-chaired the trunk-or-treat with Krug last year. Five hundred people registered. This year, 2,700 people signed up.

“This event is great because it brings local businesses and community members and organizations together,” said Richie Krug Jr., president of East Meadow Chamber of Commerce. “Everybody comes together.”

There were other things to do besides collect candy. There was a costume contest, raffles and a picture station.

“I thought this was a great event for our community,” said Steven LaSala, commissioner of the East Meadow Baseball and Softball Association. “East Meadow is a great place to live. I love this idea, and I hope we do this every year.”

He added that events like structured trunk-or-treats might become the new norm for Halloween. “It’s a controlled environment for the kids, it makes everything safe for the kids, and I think these fields are a great place for the kids to do this,” he said.

The fields were alive on Saturday with baseball and softball games going on all around the trick-or-treaters.

“It’s nice to get all of the kids together and feel a sense of normalcy,” said Becky Mattia, an East Meadow resident who was there with her daughter, Madison, 6, who dressed up as Mary Poppins. “A small little area for the kids set up helps keep things safe. Being outside makes things seem safe from Covid.”

LaSala described the feedback he received as overwhelmingly positive. “Everyone has thanked us,” he said. “They thought it was a wonderful thing to do, especially because of the pandemic last year. It was a safer way to have your kids go trick-or-treating.”

Heather Sutz, an East Meadow resident who brought her children, Dylan, 8, and Colin, 5, liked the community aspect of the event. “I like that this is safe and community-oriented,” Sutz said. “This is better for the younger kids to get them in and out. I like the community aspect of this beyond Covid.”

Larry Fuchs, who brought his children, Michael, 6, and Alani, 19, agreed. “All of these people involved take pride in where they live,” he said. “This is all about family, friends and the community coming together, and this is a perfect place for it. This is my second year coming, and it’s a wonderful event.”

It wasn’t hard to get businesses to participate, Richie Krug said. “We put it out there, and the amount of support we received and the number of hands that went up was great,” he said. “We got the original people from last year, plus even more.” He said he thinks all of the business owners love dressing up and participating.

After last year, people expressed a need for another event like this, he said. Since the event was limited last October because Covid, chamber officials said they were grateful more people could participate this year because of the vaccines. 

“I hope Halloween becomes a hybrid of events like these and normal trick-or-treating,” Krug said. “These events are great to have a sense of community pride.”

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