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'Trunk or treat': the new, safer way to 'trick or treat'

On Halloween, St. Michael School parents, faculty distribute goodies in decked out vehicles

MIAMI | If you drove by a school zone the morning of Oct. 31, you likely saw Princess Jasmine, Jesse the Cowgirl, Spiderman, and the pup Chase from Paw Patrol on their way to school. Although Halloween “trick or treating” usually happens in the evening, a new tradition has developed as more parents feel unsafe taking their children door to door around neighborhoods. That alternative Halloween celebration is called “trunk or treating” — a family friendly, tailgate-style, candy-giving event.

Several schools and parishes in the Archdiocese of Miami have embraced “trunk or treat,” hosting the event on or before Halloween. St. Michael the Archangel School in Miami is one of them.

Serving up caramel macchiatos: Student baristas at a Starbucks drive-thru-themed vehicle handed out baked goods, candy, and even a few coffee beverages to adults during this year's trunk or treat at St. Michael the Archangel School. The Starbucks mermaid also greeted visitors.

Photographer: CRISTINA CABRERA JARRO| FC

Serving up caramel macchiatos: Student baristas at a Starbucks drive-thru-themed vehicle handed out baked goods, candy, and even a few coffee beverages to adults during this year's trunk or treat at St. Michael the Archangel School. The Starbucks mermaid also greeted visitors.

This is their third year coordinating the event, which brought out families with 20 elaborately decorated vehicles, ranging in theme from Starbucks — with baristas and a drive thru window — to Harry Potter — sorting hat, house banners, wands and Platform 9 3/4 included — to Toy Story 4 — with a trunk turned toy chest — and a completely spotted 101 Dalmatians car. Most importantly for kids: more than enough candy and goodies for the 350 students attending the school. 

Prior to trunk or treat, students in Pre-K3 through third grade were the only ones trick or treating. They got their candy from older students who distributed it in the school hallways.

Although they all seemed to have fun, Yasmin Fleitas, a parent, thought that all students should participate in collecting candy. She suggested the idea of “trunk or treat” to the Home and School Association, and parents and faculty got on board, including school principal Carmen Alfonso, who dresses up every year. This year she made an appearance as one of the 101 Dalmatian pups accompanying the 101 Dalmatian vehicle.

“Many would have caved in not to do the event to prevent negative comments. But she shares our view and desire for the kids to be kids. It’s a safe, fun environment that promotes teamwork among the parents, and where you know your kids can safely trick or treat,” said Maidis Infante, mother of four and secretary of St. Michael’s Home and School Association.

Infante noted that some trunk or treat volunteers plan their “car costumes” a year in advance. Participants partake in a friendly competition, and students delight in the creativity of the outfits worn by the vehicles as well as the adults.

“I like that there are other parents that I don’t normally see participating,” said Julieta, Infante’s 10-year-old daughter. “I also like that it gets me out of class for a while. I love collecting candy ‘cause I have a sweet tooth and I can eat candy for days.”

Students from St. Michael the Archangel School dressed as a pirate, Ariel from The Little Mermaid, Spiderman, and Elsa from Frozen are all smiles as they begin trick or treating at the school's third annual trunk or treat event Oct. 31.

Photographer: CRISTINA CABRERA JARRO| FC

Students from St. Michael the Archangel School dressed as a pirate, Ariel from The Little Mermaid, Spiderman, and Elsa from Frozen are all smiles as they begin trick or treating at the school's third annual trunk or treat event Oct. 31.

This year, Infante decorated her vehicle in a Disney’s Little Mermaid theme, converting her van into an ocean cave. Her daughters, Julieta and Elena, dressed as mermaids, her son Daniel dressed as Ariel’s fish friend, Flounder, and Infante dressed as Ursula. She used black tulle and pool noodles wrapped in black duct tape to imitate the sea witch’s shifting tentacles. Her eldest son, Eduardo, volunteered with another family whose vehicle was decked out in the theme of one of his favorite Netflix shows, Stranger Things, and Infante’s husband, also named Eduardo, was a “gum slinging” cowboy.

While there is plenty of fun for all, safety is a priority. Every adult volunteer is Virtus-trained, background-checked and fingerprinted. On location, vehicles are positioned so that they block any traffic from driving into the area where the children trunk or treat. Volunteer dads are stationed at every entrance, and police are also on site. Students parade out of the school with their class, and the flow is quick as they collect candy from each vehicle and return to the school when they are finished.

“You see teamwork, all for the benefit of the kids,” said Infante. “At the end, they are the reason for this event. It brings a bit of magic to the children — not to mention lots of candy.”

As for those who see Halloween as a devil-, demonic-, or witchcraft-worshiping holiday, Infante said it’s time Catholics reclaim Halloween as a family event.

“We are celebrating All Hallows Eve, where we know that Jesus will always prevail over the devil. We also tie the vigil to the feast of All Saints by the kids coming dressed up as saints on the following day, to celebrate All Saints Day Mass.”

More spots than a Dalmatian: Faculty members from St. Michael the Archangel School, including school Principal Carmen Alfonso (second from right), took Disney's 101 Dalmatians quite seriously at this year's trunk or treat event Oct. 31. The entire car exterior was decked out in spots.

Photographer: CRISTINA CABRERA JARRO| FC

More spots than a Dalmatian: Faculty members from St. Michael the Archangel School, including school Principal Carmen Alfonso (second from right), took Disney's 101 Dalmatians quite seriously at this year's trunk or treat event Oct. 31. The entire car exterior was decked out in spots.


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