SOUTH PLAINFIELD - The South Plainfield Borough Public Celebrations Committee sponsored their annual Trunk or Treat to benefit the South Plainfield High School Music Department on November 3rd from 2p.m. to 3:15p.m. in the parking lot of South Plainfield High School. Costumes, contests, prizes, baked sale, hot chocolate, music, dancing and lots of candy brought the community together to continue Halloween festivities into the weekend.
“The Public Celebrations Committee was gracious enough to sponsor this event to benefit the Music Boosters,” said Nina Rohrer, Vice President of the S.P.H.S. Music Boosters. “It was a chilly and very windy day, but a great turnout with lots of kids and participating vehicles that were decorated for the event!”
This year's Trunk or Treat drew 125 children, along with over thirty decorated vehicles and numerous volunteers.
“The Trunk or Treat event, hosted by the Borough of South Plainfield Public Celebrations, is always a well attended event,” said Debbie Boyle, Chairwoman of the Public Celebrations Committee. “Children eagerly wait to wear their costumes one more time before they are packed away.”
Trunk or Treat has become a tradition in South Plainfield. The first Trunk or Treat served as glimpse of hope in the days following the horrific devastation of Hurricane Sandy that pummeled the East Coast autumn of 2012.
“Back when Hurricane Sandy hit, we didn’t have a Halloween,” said Gina McConville, Public Celebrations Committee member. “Some families got together and Debbie Boyle got involved. We said, ‘Let’s do a Trunk or Treat for the kids.’ Everyone had their candy and their costumes, we just needed a place to do it that was safe. It ended up being absolutely amazing!”
In November 2012, families brought their vehicles to the South Plainfield High School parking lot, opened their decorated trunks and provided candy so neighborhood children could trick or treat.
“The first Trunk or Treat had such a great turnout that we figured, let’s do it every year,” added McConville. “And then we made it a fundraiser for the Music Boosters. We kept the tradition going and hopefully, we’ll keep it going even longer.”
"When I showed up at the first trunk or treat in 2012, I was in awe," said Kristy Lowrie. "Everyone came together in such a short time with the same goal. It was the definition of community that day - the friendliness, the support, and all of the generosity. Most importantly were the carefree smiles on all of those kids' faces while they got their treats, hung out with their friends and family, and danced the night away. That was everything!"
Since that first year, the event has grown. Public Celebrations Committee members Kimberly Anesh, Stephanie Bartfalvi, Debbie Boyle, Jessica DeSanctis, Pat DeSantis, Susan DiFrancesco, Amy Johnson, Gina McConville, Jen Ratti, Stephanie Wolak and Council Liaison Christine Faustini, work to make the event a memorable day for the community.
“I think it’s good for the kids to get out, enjoy themselves and have fun,” said Tamika Brookins, who brought her four-year-old son, Zadin, dressed as the Hulk Smash. “It’s amazing. This is for a really good cause and the donations are great to help everybody out, so it’s wonderful.”
Several music booster families brought one or more vehicles decorated with spooky and creative decor while music students gave out candy to the children.
“We had families donate baked goods that we sold and Pat DeSantis donated a big container of hot chocolate,” said Rohrer. “The DJ played great music and there was a contest for best costume!”
Mayor Matthew Anesh, Council President Robert Bengivenga Jr., Councilwoman Christine Faustini, Councilman Derryck White and Councilman Joseph Wolak also attended the event, stopping at every trunk to admire the creative themes. Children ran excitedly from trunk to trunk while Disc Jockey Matthew Victoria with JVE Entertainment played music all afternoon.
“It was really windy, but I like how everyone came out to support Music Boosters,” said Liesl Co, Junior at S.P.H.S. “Everyone had fun going around and spreading the Halloween spirit even though it’s past Halloween. I think it’s a really fun time for the whole community to come together.”
Aside from the Music Department, several S.P.H.S. students and school organizations participated in the event. The South Plainfield High School Honor Society replenished treats for vehicles as supplies diminished. S.P.H.S. Tiger Tech Robotics Team students brought a robot-themed car and handed out treats to children with President of the Robotics Parent Association Maria Sottiriou and parent volunteers.
Many South Plainfield residents also decorated their trunks with Halloween themes and joined in the fun.
“I think the turnout was great,” said Dawn Wallis, retired Grant School Nurse, who decorated her car and gave out candy with her son, Danny. “We had more fun than the kids! It’s nice having a good opportunity to be with the community and be with the kids. This is our first year, but it won’t be the last. It was absolutely wonderful.”
South Plainfield schools and the South Plainfield Public Library held collections for bags of candy over the weeks leading up to Trunk or Treat. Many families who brought their vehicles also donated bowls of candy to give out.
“This is our first year decorating our car and it was a great turn out,” said Becky Birath, 2015 S.P.H.S. Graduate. “We didn’t expect so many people. It’s just a lot of fun and it’s great to see the community come together.”
South Plainfield Police Officers came out to enjoy the day, giving out candy to eager trick or treaters. Officer Zachary Melanson and Sargeant Lloyd McNelly judged the trunk decorating contest selecting the Cassio Family for first place, who won a $50.00 gift card for their creation, Spider Cave.
Music Booster Greg Cassio and his daughter, seventh grade student Riley Cassio, transformed the bed of their pick up truck into a Spider Cave. Riley Cassio said she and her dad created the webbed fortress together. Greg Cassio added that he wanted the cave-like design to be interactive. They used forty pound weights and bungee cords to hold down the structure, which stood secure despite the windy afternoon.
First Place costume winner was Tim Prisk, who received a $50.00 gift card for his Hamburglar costume. Second Place went to Lucas Notino, who received a $25.00 gift card for his Shower Curtain costume, and Third Place went to Madeline Senatore, who received a $25.00 gift card for her Unicorn costume. Gift card prizes were donated by the Boyle Memorial Foundation.
“I think it’s great for the kids,” said Lori Healy, whose older son is a freshman at S.P.H.S. and younger son is in kindergarten at Franklin. “There’s more candy in the house, but it’s great! It’s good to get out here and see everybody. It’s great for the high school.”
“The Music Boosters are so grateful to the Celebrations Committee for this event as all the proceeds made goes directly to our music students and color guard,” said Rohrer. “And of course, it’s a very safe way for the kids to trick or treat!”
The fun filled afternoon concluded after the contest winners were announced. Attendees left with bags full of Halloween candy and hearts full of happiness reminded of the strength of the South Plainfield community.
“I am very happy that we were able to bring joy to the children after Hurricane Sandy,” said Stephanie Wolak, “And we now continue a South Plainfield tradition to give the children in our town an extra special Halloween treat.”