By Harley Nefe
Watauga County Parks and Recreation hosted its first community trunk or treat on Thursday, Oct. 29, in the parking lots around the Watauga Community Recreation Center. The event was a big success as around 350 cars showed up, and nearly 1,000 trick or treaters in costumes received candy.
“What a crowd,” said Keron Poteat, Recreation Specialist II. “It exceeded our expectations. It was great. We were pleased.”
The trunk or treat was a drive-thru only event where visiting cars containing families drove by decorated trunks of parked cars and received candy from individuals who volunteered and registered to participate.
“We had originally wanted to do it as a trunk or treat where the kids walk through, but because of the Covid situation, we thought, ‘OK, we don’t need all the kids walking beside each other and mingling together,’ so we kept them in their family units, which we figured would be more Covid aware and safe,” Poteat said. “Our recommendation to the folks handing out candy was definitely to wear a mask and if they wanted to wear gloves, that was great, too. We tried to keep those measures in place to mitigate worry and concern over things.”
The event was originally scheduled to last from 5-7 p.m.; however, Poteat said it was 8 p.m. before the first trunks were able to leave.
“If they had candy, they stayed,” Poteat said. “So, that was wonderful, too.”
If trunks were running out of candy, people tried to supply them with more.
“We had people doing candy runs,” Poteat said. “The individual cars were calling friends saying, ‘Hey, I need more candy!’ It was funny seeing it being delivered into the parking lot. People were walking in with armloads of candy to help refuel everybody.”
Due to the number of cars arriving to the event, traffic was backed up on State Farm Road and Boone Heights Drive and the surrounding areas.
“All of the comments we heard from the trick or treaters and the parents, they were like, ‘This was worth the wait,’” Poteat said. “I was at the light by Burger King trying to let people know that they were an hour out from getting in. They didn’t seem to mind. The kids were happy. Everyone was happy when they got in. We’ll take that as a success.”
There were many people who volunteered and registered to hand out candy in their trunks to the trick or treaters.
“That was phenomenal,” Poteat said.
There was a range of folks helping including App State students, county commissioners and local businesses. The Rock Church had individuals shooting candy down through PVC pipe to the trick or treaters.
“That was just incredible,” Poteat said. “My cheeks hurt from smiling, and my heart just felt like it was overflowing from gratitude. These folks just want to come out and give back to the community. 2020 has not been the greatest year, but this was such a bright spot.”
Everyone who registered their trunks were asked to decorate for the ‘best dressed’ contest, as Watauga County Parks and Recreation staff gave out five different awards for folks.
“We are so pleased with how everything went,” Poteat said. “It was a community event, a staff-wide event. One of the things we loved was being able to outwardly showcase our new community recreation center. This is just the epitome of what we want it to be: community. That was kind of cool. Even folks who were driving through were like, ‘This looks so cool!’ So, we’re really excited for when we do get to open the doors; we’re welcoming in every single person.”
Trunks who received prizes were:
Candy Monster (Valerie Fitch)
Watauga County Public Library – Best Trunk in the Neighborhood
Science Lab (Name Unavailable)
Witch & Wizardly (Adriana Miller)
Special Delivery (The Rock Church Pastor Michael Gragg)
Businesses including Comeback Shack, Pepper’s Restaurant & Bar, The Red Onion and Hardee’s donated gift cards to their restaurants.
These folks all went above and beyond to make this an awesome event along with the Watauga County Parks and Recreation staff who said thank you:
The Rock Church
Watauga Building Supply
Watauga County Admin Office
The Harrison family
Misty Watson and family
Deron and Jennifer Geouque
Todd Castle and family
Bart Keller and family
Trenton Williams and Elizabeth Presnell
The WHS women’s basketball team
Commissioner John Welch
Commissioner Charlie Wallin
Kathy and Richard Butler
Mike and Catherine Ezzelle
Arianna Miller and friend
Photos by Ken Ketchie: