Columbus came, it saw and it conquered the quest for Halloween fun on Thursday night, as more than 1,500 people showed up for the first-ever City of Columbus + Friends Trunk-or-Treat extravaganza.
Pirates, Pokémon, the “Mario Kart” collective, Ghostbusters, Sesame Street’s “Oscar the Grouch,” “Gru” and his “Minions,” “Cruella de Vil” and two Dalmatians, aliens and Ghostface from “Scream” fame were among the cast of characters greeting area kids and their families.
Held inside the lobby and outside of the Columbus Community Building, 2500 14th St., people from all over the area flocked to downtown Columbus for a couple hours of spirited festivities. Organized by City Parks and Recreation Director Betsy Eckhardt and Public Communications Manager Matt Lindberg, the City saw various leaders and members of its departments, along with numerous area businesses and nonprofit organizations, come together with more than 25 decorated trunks full of candies and goodies.
“What a turnout. Just look at the crowd of people,” Columbus Mayor Jim Bulkley said while walking through the crowd outside. “You can look around and see kids of all ages and sizes. It’s just really neat, and there are a lot of creative outfits.”
Halloween-inspired music, such as Michael Jackson’s iconic “Thriller” and Ray Parker Jr.’s “Ghostbusters” pumped through a speaker as families made their way along the blocked-off portion of 14th Street to collect candy and mingle with the various City officials, business owners and staff. With more than 1,500 people estimated to have come through over the course of the two-hour event, many with trunks found themselves running to the stores or having additional bags of candy delivered to refill their supply.
“We’ve been blowing through it,” Eckhardt said of the City Parks & Recreation “Sesame Street” inspired trunk needing more candy. “But it has been awesome to see the community and businesses all coming together to do something fun for the kids.”
Artzy Haven Owner Kristin Stock and her team were among the many area businesses and nonprofits on hand to pass out candy. Artzy Haven proudly displayed its pirate-themed trunk that turned plenty of heads. Stock said she’s appreciative of the City of Columbus for organizing the festivities.
(ABOUT THE PHOTO: Artzy Haven Owner Kristin Stock, right, and her team had a pirates-themed trunk.)
“The downtown trick-or-treat hosted by the City of Columbus at the new community building was fantastic. The fun, festive spooky music was a fun touch to the event,” Stock said. “This was my first trunk-or-treat, and I was blown away by the number of families who attended this fantastic event. … Thank you to the City of Columbus.”
Local realtors Don Geu and Erica Zywiec, of eXp Realty, were also on hand enjoying the atmosphere and playing up their horror-themed trunk. Geu was sporting a full “Ghostface” costume.
(ABOUT THE PHOTO: eXp Realtors Don Geu, left, and Erica Zywiec show off their horror-themed trunk.)
“We wanted to be here to support the community,” Geu said while handing out popcorn balls and candy. “It has been excellent. The turnout has been great.”
Believe it or not, it wasn’t just about the candy. Besides its “Pokémon” trunk, Columbus Public Library hosted a fun craft activity in the first-floor lobby of the Community Building that had plenty of families stopping through to enjoy.
Columbus Police Chief Charles Sherer, Capt. Doug Molczyk, Community Service Technician Bobby Pensick and other officers grilled up 200 hot dogs utilizing the chief’s coffin-shaped grill and mingled with the crowd.
(ABOUT THE PHOTO: Columbus Police Chief Charles Sherer, front, and other members of the Columbus Police Department pose for a photo while grilling.)
“We’re lucky to be here and appreciate the opportunity,” Sherer said, noting that CPD loves being able to support the community and be accessible. “I think part of it is for the community to see that we’re not just police officers on the street writing tickets all the time. We’re also part of the community, and this is our way to help give back to the community.”
On the other side of the street block, Columbus Fire Department officials were on hand with “Smokey the Bear” and a couple of their vehicles to pass out candy and greet everyone.
(ABOUT THE PHOTO: Members of the Columbus Fire Department on hand for the festivities.)
All the trunks proved stellar, as kids and adults walked by each one smiling. City organizers commissioned Mayor Bulkley and his wife, Karen, to pick out their three favorite decorated trunks that were ultimately awarded a framed certificate.
First place went to the Columbus Arts Council for its live art exhibit titled “Night of the Living Columbus Arts Gallery." (Learn more by reading the story on that display on the City’s website by clicking here.)
(ABOUT THE PHOTO: Columbus Arts Council Executive Director Elley Coffin, left, Mayor Jim Bulkley, City of Columbus' Patrick Kosmacek and Karen Bulkley pose for a photo after the Bulkleys presents the Columbus Arts Council with a first-place certificate for their "Night of the Living Columbus Arts Council Gallery" exhibit.)
Second place went to Columbus Bank and Trust Company’s “Mario Kart” trunk that featured Bank members in full costume.
(ABOUT THE PHOTO: Columbus Mayor Jim Bulkley and his wife, Karen, present Columbus Bank and Trust Company a second-place certificate for their "Mario Kart" trunk.)
The Columbus Area Children’s Museum “Monster Good Time” trunk took third-place honors. Children’s Museum Executive Director Katy McNeil said she and the Children’s Museum Board were appreciative of the honor, noting she thought the event was going well and a tremendous collaboration among all the entities within the Community Building, participating businesses and fellow nonprofits.
(ABOUT THE PHOTO: Columbus Mayor Jim Bulkley and his wife, Karen, present the Columbus Area Children's Museum Executive Director Katy McNeil and Children's Museum Board members a third-place certificate for their trunk.)
McNeil and Children’s Museum Board President Nick Suing said they both enjoyed talking with attendees about the museum and the many grand opening activities planned for December.
“It was a fun event all the way around,” Suing said of the Trunk-or-Treat. “I thought it was great.”
Due to the overwhelming feedback, the City of Columbus is planning for the “City + Friends Trunk-or-Treat to be an annual Halloween celebration downtown each October moving forward.
There seemed to be a consensus among those with trunks that they would all collectively make sure they would have more candy for 2024’s event. Regardless, kids and families walked away with plenty of sweet treats this year.
“Moms and dads are going to have oodles of candy. The dentists are going to be really happy,” Mayor Bulkley said, with a laugh. “This has just been a fantastic time.”
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