Every year in our country, over 41 million children and families celebrate Halloween. Trick-or-treating, eating loads of candy, and dressing up in creative costumes offer an universal appeal to kids from all backgrounds. However, it’s common for families from urban neighborhoods to head to the suburbs for Halloween activities looking for safer and friendlier options than what they believe may be found in their own community.
Over the years, South Atlanta neighbors have asked the question, how can we reclaim Halloween to encourage community, creativity, and of course, a high volume of candy consumption? At the heart of intentional neighboring is staying presenting and being a part of good stories here in the neighborhood. We are always looking for ways to participate in shalom with our neighbors, including helping our community flourish on days like Halloween.
Churches have a long history of hosting “Trunk or Treat” or other alternatives for their communities. Similarly, for the past seven years, the South Atlanta Civic League has hosted South Atlanta Treat Street.
Part of the success of pulling off this kind of event is partnering with neighbors and using local resources. Each year, Moving In The Spirit - a youth development program that uses the art of dance to positively transform the lives of children and teens - brings formerly used show costumes to outfit kids who come with costumes. Carver Market has provided access to restrooms and snacks in the past. A nearby church provided a sound system for spooky tunes. And the local funeral home made a big splash when they showed up with a hearse and fog machine!
Neighbors chip in, donating bags upon bags of candy and manning carnival games for the kids. There is face painting, ping pong ball tosses, haunted woods, corn hole, and more. Some years we’ve had costume contests, and some years we’ve had volunteer photographers snap photos so each family can hold on to a memory from this fun event. This year, we’re excited to see a host of new neighbors jumping in to help support what has become an expected and anticipated community event.
We’re also looking forward to a new venue this year, taking advantage of South Atlanta Park. This place is underutilized in the community and many neighbors are actually surprised to discover the park’s existence. A new Friends of the Park committee formed in the neighborhood with hopes to see the park grow into a vibrant gathering spot for the neighborhood. Treat Street is a great first step!
Rather than closing our doors and turning out the lights, or driving away from our neighborhood altogether, we are choosing to come out, invest, and create something together.
How can you reclaim Halloween in your neighborhood as a way to build community and celebrate together?