By Jissella Urquilla
Catholic University students and faculty passed out about 16,000 pieces of candy to children of the Brookland community as they trick-or-treated through Centennial Village on Thursday. Student community leaders have been planning Halloween on Campus for the last six weeks. The event intended to provide a fun Halloween night to children of the CUA community.
Emmjolee Mendoza Waters, Associate Campus Minister for Community Service, said that Halloween on Campus is a way to acknowledge that CUA is part of a bigger community in Brookland. After invitations were sent out to local schools, some of which are a part of DC Reads, and emails were sent to community lists 1,000 kids were registered as of Tuesday to attend Halloween on Campus. Last year, 1,400 kids attended this Halloween event.
Halloween on Campus has followed a similar template for the past ten years. Waters remembered being a student at CUA in the late 90’s when a smaller version of the event was hosted by student organizations. During this period, student organizations took a smaller amount of kids trick-or-treating near where O’Connell Hall is today.
Twenty-seven student organizations sponsored tables where attendees could play games, participate in arts & crafts activities and collect prizes. Other organizations manned the registration tables, led the kids to trick-or-treating and provided the treats! Alpha Phi Omega played skee ball with the kids while the Knights of Columbus continued their tradition of playing fight-the-knight. Another event was making a pumpkin erupt which has been popular in the past years as well.
Junior Emily Messina volunteered with the swim team and deemed the evening a success.
“The kids were so happy to be trick or treating. They kept running from station to station and eating their candy right then and there,” Messina said. “The parents were so grateful and happy to have a safe environment to enjoy the holiday with their family and friends.”
Over 300 students volunteered and made Halloween on Campus possible. In addition to the volunteers, ten student leaders alongside the community staff ensured that Halloween on Campus was possible for all participants. Halloween on Campus has come a long way since its days by O’Connell Hall. The event now takes place at Marist Hall with moon bounces available for kids to jump around on. The children of the community were able to come onto CUA campus dressed as TV characters, princesses, witches, heroes, and more.
In addition to some of the traditional activities that usually take place at Halloween on Campus, this year the attendees could take home a photo with a princess, pirate and backdrops. Student ministers built a mini golf course for the kids. Marist lawn was filled with kids laughing, screaming, and running around with excitement as they celebrated Halloween.
In the past, the leaders putting together this event have run out of candy. Determined to never let a child leave without candy again, organizers learned their lesson.
“You can kinda do the math when there are 25 trick or treat stations and X amount of kids,” Waters said.
The Brookland Outreach Community on campus also plans Spring to CUA and a field day for the children of the community. Aside from the outreach strategies carried out, a part of what makes these events successful is what Waters described as “street cred.” People come and enjoy it one year and then invite their friends for the next year.
Erin Strohm Molloy came to the event and said her daughters had a wonderful time.
“We’ve come to this event since 2013, when our oldest was a baby,” Strohm Molloy said. “We love what CUA does for the community!”