Trunk or Treat is an event where an organization creates a “street” of vehicle “trunks” (sometimes decorated, sometimes not) and participants walk from trunk to trunk and say “Trunk or Treat!”

We have been doing Trunk or Treat @ Hayward Wesleyan Church for six years now. I came across the idea from a conference of sorts for children’s pastor in Southern California a number of years ago. We used to do something called “Harvest Fest,” which was a fall carnival type event with booths and prizes and games. It was a lot of work to organize and pull off. I was looking for a Fall outreach event that was simple. And I heard about Trunk or Treat from another children’s pastor and immediately ran it through my simple grid and concluded it would work. And it has!

How It Works

It’s a really simple event. People volunteer to bring a “trunk” and candy to pass out. They sign up ahead of time and we screen and approve them as they come in.

We promote the event through signs on the property as well as postcards to families in our church and in the local newspaper about a month before the event.

We tend to go through A LOT of candy during Trunk or Treat, so we ask for candy donations during the whole month of October. This helps us supplement those “trunk” participants who could not afford to buy candy for 1000 kids.

We have had around 25-30 “trunks” every year. Last year we estimated around 1500-2000 people came through our Trunk or Treat if that gives you an idea of how many people attending the event to how many vehicle “trunks” we had. Take a look at this time lapse video from this past year:

The people who participate with a “trunk” really enjoy doing it. They have a lot of fun! We have a strategic place that we park all the “trunks” in the back of our church and we wind the line through the building of our church (to keep them warm during cold nights). All the “trunks” face in toward each other, kind of like a large cul-de-sac. After a few different experiments, this is our favorite configuration. Here’s a walk-thru video from this past year:

We also have a crew who help people park and keep order in our parking lot. Our first year of Trunk or Treat brought a huge response and we had an accident in the entrance to the parking lot. This wasn’t our fault, but we didn’t help matters. We had no idea what the response would be and people choose for themselves how to park in our overflowing parking lot, which caused problems. Ever since our first year, we have parking lot attendants that direct traffic. They are awesome!

The hours of the event are from 4:00 – 6:00pm. The city of Hayward, WI has trick or treating hours: 4-7pm. We grab the first two hours of that. It seems that most people like to hit our place first on their way to other adventures of the evening. Others tend to come right in the middle of our time slot. It’s pretty much dwindled dead by the time 6pm rolls around. There are always a couple of families who come late, and I keep some spare candy around to make sure those last-minute kids don’t miss out.

Then everyone leaves. This is the best part! There is no clean-up! All the “trunks” close, I say thanks to everyone, and they go home! It’s awesome!

That’s really it. It’s incredibly simple. I suppose we could add extra things to this like: face painting, some inflatables, hand out tracks, etc, but we choose not to. This event is what we like to call PURE FUN. There’s no agenda other than providing a fun, Halloween style event in our community. This is not part of a strategy to assimilate people into our church. But it is a very relational event, and the more we keep it just pure fun, the better it is at building relationships with families and children in our community.