Viviana Solorzano and Sergio Marti
Trunk or Treat Co-Chairs
The 2022 Cary Elementary PTA Trunk or Treat was an unqualified success. Naturally, we have a million questions for our Co-Chairs.
Why organize Trunk or Treat at Cary Elementary in 2022?
Viviana: Last school year, I was supremely proud of the way our PTA was beginning to help our school community emerge from the isolation of the covid-19 lockdown. The end of year Talent Show blew me away with how it energized everyone - students, families and school staff alike! Knowing that this year would be open to more in-person events, I decided that a fall event in a similar spirit would be a great way to kick-off the new school year. Having attended Trunk-or-Treats during the pandemic, I found them to be fun, creative and most importantly a way for the kids to gather for Halloween fun where they might otherwise be separated by neighborhoods or distance.
Ok, your minds were made up and the idea was solid. How did you get started?
Viviana: It was essential to begin planning right away, seeing as how our school’s activity calendar was filling up SO quickly already. Since we’d never done a Trunk or Treat before, and it relies on the participation of the school community, I sent out a limited survey at the beginning of October to gauge if there was even an interest in this event, firstly, and secondly, identify who would be willing to decorate a trunk. The response was overwhelmingly positive! We began with 16 interested parties, had 8 commitments, and ended with 12 trunks, all unique!
Judging from the event itself, you definitely had plenty of trunks. When did the treats factor in?
Sergio: With everything coming together, we decided the PTA would provide two bags worth of candy for each trunk, to relieve the burden of having to buy candy on top of decorating the trunks. We ended up getting 4 huge bags of assorted chocolate candy and 4 huge bags of fruit/assorted candies/taffy/gummies at Costco (and we got some wild looks rolling through the place with that much in our cart!) We divided those into one big bag per car. A trip to Dollar General let us put those mixed candies into big fun bowls.
Good thinking -- but there was a lot more at the parking lot than just Trick or Treating. What else was on your list?
Sergio: What’s an event without atmosphere? We set about making a family friendly Halloween playlist to play during the event. (Who knew a trap version of the Ghostbusters theme song existed!).
Viviana: It was pretty clear that there needed to be more to do at the event than just go around the trunks. After all, once you made the rounds, you’d probably leave. Having the community feel like they could hang around and socialize would be easier if there were games to play or snacks to eat. And so, planning an area for simple games that could entertain from kindergarten to 5th grade was next. Ring tosses were first to come to mind, as they would work in the parking lot area with minimal equipment needed.
I must admit that this was my favorite part of the prep; I love to craft and create! For the littles, I turned some plain buckets from the hardware store into large targets they can aim for, with a Halloween twist. Painting them so they turned into Frankenstein’s monster, a glam wicked witch and a mummy was almost as fun as the event itself for me! Some clothesline wire wrapped with purple and orange duct tape became customized hoops to toss. As well, simple little cones became pretty witches hats with the addition of a disposable plate around the base! Add some points values in tape and magic marker and voila, a test of skill for the more practiced hands.
I don’t know about y’all but events are significantly more enjoyable to me if there’s food and/or drinks available. There would be mountains of candy, for sure, but something that was more substantial, and being as the event was during lunchtime, had me thinking about other offerings.
A local, CES-parent-owned business provided sweet treats. Sweet Fare is a terrific new local bake shop who generously became one of our PTA sponsors this year, so we were only too thrilled they could provide Halloween donut holes, coffee and cocoa. It worked out so well, since we could purchase this and make it free to any attendee. We did run out unfortunately, but CES families are so gracious -- we were met with nothing but kindness and gratitude that we had offered this in the first place. We'll be ready with more next year.
So now everything is prepped and ready to take shape. What happened day-of?
Sergio: The morning of the event we loaded up our cars with a ton of candy, the games and the little popcorn cart and set out for the school. Our liaison with the school, Stacy Wilson, was there promptly on time to open up doors and direct us where we could get those tables, chairs and safety cones out of the school. Victoria Mata was also on hand to set up the sound system and get us ready to party! Without these two staff members, we’d have had a much more difficult morning.
I set out to build the popcorn machine, I realized it was a bit smaller than planned. 😬😅
As I was putting the machine together, Sarah Ralph, 2nd grade teacher who was there setting up her group’s amazing trunk, came over and said you know the school has a popcorn machine right? I was like nope! Had no idea! So she went and got the school popcorn machine and extra popcorn bags and got that set up and going while I finished putting together the smaller machine. This would in effect save the day! The popcorn machine was a huge hit! I couldn’t make popcorn fast enough. Once I was out and made more lines would form, waiting for the fresh hot buttery popcorn. We almost had enough for the whole event, only running out at the very end. 8 pounds of popcorn kernels gone in 2 hours!
The sweets table with the donut holes, coffee, cocoa and cold apple cider was a big hit as well. We had a lot of water bottles in the PTA supply room so brought out a couple of cases, too, and those were nearly gone by the end as well! The Dollar Store decorations were a nice touch, too, they really tied everything together - orange and black tablecloths, purple and green cups, skull head garlands!
We also want to thank Kurt Hilton, a professional photographer and CES parent, who donated his time and skills; we have an incredible gallery of photos from this event!
The event itself seemed to go off without many issues. We had such an amazing turnout, in terms of both amazing trunks and everyone showing up in costume. Everyone I talked to loved it. They couldn’t thank us enough for putting it on. Teacher participation and help was invaluable. They ran the games (Ms Tomick ran the archery game the entire time!) and put together great group trunks. The kids and families all had a blast. Can’t wait till next year!