For decades, parents felt it was perfectly safe to let their children go door-to-door in their most ghoulish costumes, say, "trick-or-treat," and pick up their treasured candy.
But today, there's a greater trend to take their children to church for a more supervised Halloween. Several churches in the Lodi-Galt area were busy entertaining children and adults alike on Saturday and Sunday.
"I think it's safer. It gives an opportunity for the kids to be with all their friends," said Randy Kuchenbecker, who has taught at St. Peter Lutheran School the past 10 years.
And at Woodbridge Missionary Baptist Church, Pastor Frank Palmer said, "When we were kids, we'd get homemade cookies. Today you never know, and the kids don't have to worry about traffic."
St. Peter and Woodbridge Missionary Baptist both hosted Halloween games and meals late Sunday afternoon and early evening. Others included Emanuel Lutheran Church, Lodi Avenue Baptist and Crossroads/Heartland Church in Lodi. And six Galt churches gathered at Horizon Community Church for a mega-carnival.
St. Peter, for example, had a duck pond, bean bag toss, face painting, fishing wall, costume contest, pumpkin contest, cakewalk and turkey dinner with all the trimmings.
At the Woodbridge church, Palmer hoped that 500 would arrive for the event, called Trunk or Treat. Most visitors are from the immediate Woodbridge neighborhood and don't attend his church, Palmer said. The church members present were busy operating games and giving out food, he added.
Many who came to the Woodbridge festival are low-income residents, so the church donated free hot dogs, chips and candy along with prizes, Palmer said.
"It's safe, and maybe some of these kids don't (otherwise) get a hot dog or Coke," said Nancy Edsall, of Elk Grove, who attends the Woodbridge church. "Everybody's having a good time — good clean fun."
Here are some other comments about the trend to have church-related Halloween festivals:
- "Parents just think it's a more positive message — no evil or Satanic references here. I think parents are more afraid to turn (children) loose and have the freedoms they probably had when they were younger." — Mark Grupe, Lodi, who attends St. Peter's.
- "It's an alternative to keep our kids safe." — Shelley Toy, Lodi, who attends St. Peter's.
- "It's safer, it's in a closed area and not in the street. It's more of a family gathering." — Kristine Hobbs, Lodi, who attends St. Peter's.
- "And we'll know more people." — Kennedy Hobbs, Kristine Hobbs' daughter.
- "Tonight, I've got a lot of former students here. They're now in high school. They want to come back to see their teachers and former schoolmates." — Randy Kuchenbecker
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.