It was a dark and spooky night, and it was wildly successful to boot.
The annual “Trunk-or-Treat," held in the parking lot at the Fort Frances Public Library by the "Project Safe Halloween” committee, was jammed full of trunks handing out all kinds of treats to the ghouls, goblins, witches, pumpkins and every other costumed reveller in sight.
“I think it was the most fun Halloween I've ever had, including when I was a child,” library CEO Joan MacLean said.
“I've never done Halloween in that way. I haven't worn a costume since I was a child and I was full-on costumed this year. It was a fantastic night for all involved, I believe.”
More than two dozen different businesses and organizations set up a trunk of their own, most of them decorated in the spirit of the season, to give kids a safe and fun space to get their fill of the trick-or-treat experience.
There is no doubt that the event was popular this year, and MacLean said even as they were trying to find a method to determine the exact number of people who stopped in, the estimates are close and impressive.
“I would say probably between 800 and 1,000 people,” MacLean said.
“Generally they go by the number of hot dogs sold, but it was kind of decided that's not a good parameter any more. I didn't think so either, because a lot of people come and don't have a hot dog, and a lot of parents feed their kids before they go to something like this, as most parents do on Halloween.”
Whether judging by hot dogs or not, at some points during the night the crowd was so thick it was hard to walk through, however even quick glances at the visible faces were enough to see that those taking part were having a blast.
This was the first “Trunk-or-Treat” MacLean has had the opportunity to take part in, having only started in the role of library CEO at the end of September, and she said the turnout was impressive.
“I was amazed,” she shared.
"I just think it's such a great way of doing Halloween, especially as the population gets older, I find that there's often streets that don't have a lot of kids on it.
“For the kids, it's not worthwhile to go down every street like that, so to have it somewhere central like this is a really smart idea.”
Among those taking part in “Trunk-or-Treat” this year were the Alberton, Chapple, Emo and La Vallee Fire Services, and fire chief Joshua Colling echoed MacLean's thoughts on the success and size of the event—though he wasn't as surprised this time around, having taken part for the past few years.
“We were more surprised the first year, but this has really taken off,” Colling said.
“We've been out here for about four years now so it just keeps growing every year. It's more than last year for sure, because we bought the same amount of candy and stuff to give out as last year and we were giving it away at the end of the night and [this year] we ran out in the first hour, we had to go get more.”
Colling said part of the success of the event lies in the safety it offers to kids and the reassurance it offers to parents.
“It's a safety event,” he said.
“But the way they've got this program set up, it's all in one location, it's safe for the kids, all the candy comes and it's screened, it's not random . . . It's a community event, it's definitely worthwhile.”
It takes a small army to put on an event like “Trunk-or-Treat” successfully, and MacLean noted the library staff and all the volunteers were instrumental in helping to make the night run as smooth as it did.
“We had nine staff involved, and countless volunteers,” MacLean said.
“So many people that I just couldn't get their names, but we're just trying to make sure that we thank everybody who was involved.”