November 3, 2013


I know Halloween is done and gone, but I heard a radio report on something called a Trunk-or-Treat event, and I felt like it just had to be shared. What exactly is Trunk-or-Treat? Well, it is an event where people park their cars, decorate their trunks or back hatches, and pass out candy to dressed-up kids. This event happens in lieu of traditional Halloween Trick-or-Treating. According to the NPR report on Trunk-or-Treat, the events really started because churches were uncomfortable with some aspects of Halloween, so to change the focus from devilry and trickery, they started the Trunk-or-Treat events. However, other groups and organizations have adapted them to their Halloween festivities.

People will decorate their cars and then park them in a parking lot, usually a church or school parking lot, and then children will go from trunk to trunk shouting “Trunk or Treat.” The children are still dressed up and they still receive candy, but the event is considered safer. Partially, this is because children are not running in the streets while people drive down them, but it is also due to the fact that Trunk-or-Treat events tend to have people parents know, so they can trust that their children receive safe candy and treats. For religious parents, Trunk-or-Treat deemphasizes the elements of Halloween that they do not approve.

I like much of this. I like that parents feel safer with who gives candy at a Trunk-or-Treat event because they are usually run by and participated with people who are in common communities be they church, groups, organizations, neighborhoods, or towns. I like that kids do not have to run in and out of streets for candy. I even like the spirit of decorating the trunks.

But…some of my most treasured memories are going door-to-door, ringing bells, and shouting “Trick or Treat” while being escorted by my parents. My dad would always dress up with us and walk to the doorstep to watch us. He would make us wait until it was our turn, and both of my parents insisted that we still be polite, so we had to yell “Trick or Treat, please!”

The allure of the unknown, of what or who was behind each door, compelled us and also excited us. And in our neighborhood, we had neighbors who would decorate their yards and have a mini-scare house. For one night, we were allowed to just be crazy, be something other than our normal selves. It was fabulous and exhilarating.

I am not sure that those children who participated in Trunk-or-Treat experienced that same thrill. For me, the candy was really secondary. Walking down our neighborhood roads with our parents, all of us dressed up in something other, really made Halloween sparkle. We did not know all of our neighbors, but on this night, we met many of them and started friendships. It truly was a time when the neighborhood dropped their fences and locks and opened up, even if just for a night.

Halloween is incredible because of the imagination and magic of it all. In that regard, I applaud the imagination of Trunk-or-Treat events, but I still will participate in and promote neighborhood Trick-or-Treating. This is an opportunity to breakdown those figurative fences and appreciate imagination, youth, and fun.

Image Credit: Dolimac / Shutterstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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