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CPS Trunk or Treat offers safe space for Halloween tradition

October 28, 2018 GMT

Halloween lovers are in for a treat because the annual Columbus Public Schools Trunk or Treat event is returning for the eighth year.

The event, which gathers up to 500 to 800 people annually, is set to run from 5-6 p.m. on Wednesday at the southeast parking lot of Columbus Middle School, 2200 26th St. Attendees are advised to park in the northeast parking lot. Trick-or-treaters will be provided with a safe space to gather treats -- and sometimes, trinkets, too -- from 17 different trunks put together by various area school groups and businesses.

Groups participating this year include Columbus Middle School cheerleaders, a group of middle school teachers, Circle of Friends, Future Business Leaders of America, Next Generation Kiwanis of Columbus, Valmont Industries, AngelSugar Child Development Center, Platte County Emergency Management, Bank of the Valley, Pinnacle Bank and Viaero Wireless.

Michelle Cruise, communications coordinator at CPS, said there are more student groups participating this year and that it is the first time a middle school group decided to put together a trunk.

Cherie Van Dyke, the CPS superintendent’s administrative assistant, said a lot of attendees come across people they’re familiar with, such as teachers and classmates.

“And I think today, that’s really important for our kids to see some familiar faces in a different place,” Van Dyke said. “And I think the safety of it is really, really nice.”

Each group stands a chance to take home trophies for Most Creative Trunk, Best Costume, Best Theme and Best Student Group. The prizes were handmade by Lynette Uchtman, Columbus High School counseling services secretary.

Cruise said many returning participants step up their game each year in hopes to take home a prize. In the past, there were trunks decorated according to themes like ’101 Dalmatians,′ Candyland, a pet shop, Dr. Suess, The Wizard of Oz and camping. Cruise said the decorations and creativity of each trunk never seizes to amaze her each year, noting it truly showcases participants’ time and effort. She said some of the trunks were the result of months of planning.

Each year, organizers strive to include new activities into the event, especially to entertain those waiting in line.

Cruise said cheerleaders have put together props and decorations for attendees to take pictures with, adding they will also be hosting trivia games.

Cruise said the success of the event falls back to the support organizers receive from CPS staff, local businesses and community members. She noted the event is funded through donations collected from faculty members, residents and the Columbus Public Schools Foundation.

“The community has always been very supportive of our event,” Cruise said. “I just think it’s important to show the community that we appreciate all they have done and the support they’ve showcased throughout the years.”

Additional treats and trinkets were donated by businesses like Columbus Event Center, Cruise & Associates, CVS, Dairy Queen, East Central District Health Department – Good Neighbor Community Health Center, Hy-Vee, McDonald’s, ServiceMaster by Shevlin, Super Saver and Walgreens.

“And that’s the reason why we do it -- because it brings the community together and people like to see kids having a good time,” Van Dyke said.

Natasya Ong is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach her via email at natasya.ong@lee.net.