Rensselaer’s annual “Trunk-or-Treat” event will be from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 28. The city’s actual trick-or-treat hours are from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. that evening. Other Halloween events will also be featured in the area in the coming weeks.

The Rensselaer team

The annual Rensselaer “Trunk-or-Treat” event is put on by the Safe Halloween Committee, which was originally formed after the Rensselaer Volunteer Fire Department suggested that the city have a “Trunk-or-Treat” event in 2013. A larger crowd showed up than was initially expected, so the idea turned into an annual event.

“The city’s Safe Halloween Committee asked to have the Trick or Treat hours on Sunday for several reasons,” said committee affiliate Alice Smith. “One concern is the excitement and treats on a school night. While Sunday night is a school night, we anticipate the children will be more rested following a weekend. The families, individuals and businesses that choose to trunks will have more time to get to the event and set up without having to rush from work. Additionally, the committee is respectful of church activities on Wednesday [Oct. 31] and the difficult decision parents have to make when the two coincide.”

Smith also said that Sunday was a convenient day for the committee members who volunteer their time for the event as well.

“It is a team in every sense of the word with everyone working, sharing expertise and having a strong desire to provide a fun and safe event for children,” she said. “... Weather and parking needs helped us to decide to move the event to the fairgrounds. After approaching the Jasper County Fair Association the event moved to the fairgrounds for a larger and safer environment.”

According to Smith, a team of Kenny and Angie Haun, Nancy Bailey, Arin Denton, Dan White, John Davis, Kyle Wright, Pat Fox, Randy Denton and Alice Smith, actively involved with several others, have been involved in making the event happen over the past few years as well.

For three years, the RVFD had also coordinated a large haunted house event for teens and adults. But hosting it was a huge task, and the members of the RVFD came to feel they were unable to design, build and man the house. But the “Trunk-or-Treat” event has continued. Smith said it was moved to the fairgrounds in 2014 and has attracted large crowds since.

“When weather is wet or extremely cold, yes, we have had sleet and snow on Halloween,” Smith said. “Cars can be in under roof and the children can be kept in another building until time to gather treats.”

Smith said the local McDonald’s joined the event “about four years ago” and are a welcome addition. They have provided a Bounce House, a “Make Your Own Carmel Apples” activity and other activities for the children and the adults as well. ConAgra has also donated popcorn for the attendees as well.

Event challenges

Even with all of that help, though, the event has its challenges with the weather and the manpower needed to make it happen.

“The weather is definitely an unpredictable component of the event,” Smith said. “We have had snow, sleet, rain, as well as clear evenings.”

This year, much of the event is expected to be outdoors under a full moon, so attendees are encouraged to layer their clothes to stay warm.

“Getting enough workers to make things go smoothly is also a concern,” Smith said. “We are thankful to have members of Pioneerz from Rensselaer Central High School to assist and a few other individuals who volunteer a few hours that evening.”

Still, the group could use more volunteers for that evening.

“As of last evening we had 18 applications to be a trunk and all are accepted,” Smith said. “We hope to have a few more families, few friends, churches, organizations or businesses sign up. Weather permitting we can handle a lot of groups and would like to have 25 or more. There are prizes to trunks!”

Smith said they also appreciate how the Jasper County Fair Association has allowed us to use the grounds and buildings as needed, along with Lou Nagel “for all his help.”

“The event is held on a shoestring budget, so depending on volunteers is important,” Smith said “Anyone is welcome to join the team that meets April through November. We have been operating on the profit on the haunted house and donations but we are interested in other fundraisers and will need volunteers to help with that.”

Volunteer opportunities

Smith said anyone who is interested in joining the team can contact any of the above-mentioned members.

“We encourage everyone to follow Safe Halloween Event on Facebook and to turn in an application, gather their candy or treats, decorate their car, costume the kids and join us at the safe Halloween event, Sunday, October 28 from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. in the evening.” she said.

Locals are also encouraged to decorate their vehicle for Halloween and even dress up in a costume if they want while passing out candy to children at the event. Candy will be provided for participants to hand out, but they are asked to bring a few bags of candy themselves.

Even if someone doesn’t want to pass out candy, monetary donations are accepted. Checks can be made payable to “Safe Halloween Event.” Bags of candy can also be dropped off at the Rensselaer Police Department headquarters. Anyone with further questions is encouraged to contact the Rensselaer Police Department at 219-866-7602.

Other Halloween events

The Rensselaer Care Center will also be hosting its annual “Trick-or-Treat Night” on Wednesday, Oct. 31 from 6:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. Community members and local businesses are invited to donate candy for this safe, free event, which will be open to community members.

“Candy donations can be dropped off at the facility at any time,” the facility stated. “Or, if it’s easier for you, we will meet you at your home or business to collect your donation.”

According to staff at the care center, the deadline for donations is Tuesday, Oct. 23. Anyone wanting more information or to arrange a donation for this specific event may call 219-866-4181.

The town of Remington’s trick-or-treat hours are from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 27.