New for Trunk or Treat: Event has a bigger venue, different set-up and attractions

Sophia Hermosillo, 8, finds a blueberry-flavored lollipop — her favorite flavor — in a cauldron filled with goodies from Espi Jones, a master instructor at the Aqua-Tots Swim School in Queen Creek. Aqua-Tots is participating in the new Trunk or Treat storefront-decorating contest and will be included on the Town Center trick-or-treat route during the holiday event. (Wendy Miller/Independent Newspapers)

Queen Creek officials are hoping changes to this year’s Halloween celebration will produce more treats than tricks for event-goers.

Trunk or Treat is the community’s annual holiday celebration. Scheduled this year for 5-9 p.m. Oct. 22, it provides a safe environment in which families can take part in an inexpensive evening of Halloween fun in a festival atmosphere. Admission is free.

Children trick-or-treat by going from car trunk to car trunk on “Trunk or Treat Street” to get their bag filled with goodies. Individuals and groups sign up to host and decorate a trunk, and the town provides all the candy to be given out at the event.

Bigger venue
About 9,500 people attended last year’s event, held at Desert Mountain Park, 22201 S. Hawes Road in Queen Creek. To mitigate the long lines and crowds participants experienced and accommodate the more than 10,000 or so expected this year, the town moved the event to the Town Center, Erica Perez, recreation coordinator, special events for the town of Queen Creek, said during a phone interview.

This is the third year Ms. Perez had overseen Trunk or Treat. She said as the town has experienced growth, so has attendance at all its community events, noting the growth ranges from 5 percent to 10 percent each year.

“We had outgrown the park and needed more area to do a few more things,” she said.

This Saturday’s event will take place on a half-mile stretch of Ellsworth Road between Ocotillo Road to the south and Rittenhouse Road to the north. It was part of Queen Creek’s Town Center improvement plan during which Ellsworth Road was widened from two to four lanes, relandscaped and decorated with lighting and other features, according to a story in the Queen Creek Independent (https://queencreekindependent.com/news/queen-creek-celebrates-reopening-of-ellsworth-road-in-town-center-with-community-block-party-feb-28/) about the first event — a community block party — that took place on the improved site after its completion in December 2014.

The party was the first of what town officials hoped will be many activities to take place in the Town Center, Chris Webb, former chairman of the Town Center Committee, told the Independent at that time.

Since then, the Town Center site as been used for events such as Lemonade Days and the Queen Creek Holiday Festival.

The actual event sites at Desert Mountain Park and in the Town Center are almost identical; both are about 8.8 acres, Ms. Perez said. However, the layout of this year’s venue is more linear, stretching about a half-mile and providing provides access to all downtown shopping opportunities, including restaurants, she said. “This commercial access greatly increases the amount of ‘space’ for the event. Additionally, there is much  more parking available in the Town Center than at Desert Mountain Park,” Ms. Perez said.

In addition to a new venue, the event layout has been changed so that more people can enjoy more attractions, Ms. Perez said.

In the past, Trunk or Treat Street was in one large area and people stood in a long, single line to participate. This year, however, the site will be separated into three zones — north, center and south. Each will contain its own mini Trunk or Treat Street as well as a row of vendors and a row each of inflatable and carnival games, Ms. Perez said.

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Members of the Friends of Horseshoe Park organization, such as Vickey Wootten, above, dress up their horses for Halloween during earlier holiday celebrations. Its members are looking forward to competing in the new horse-costume contest at this year’s Trunk or Treat celebration Oct. 22 in downtown Queen Creek. (Special to the Independent Newpspaers

The zones will be designated by a 20-foot-tall “sky dancer,” the inflatable characters with the waving arms often used to draw attention to businesses.

“This should work better for someone with little kids who doesn’t want to walk the entire event,” Ms. Perez said. “They can experience a lot of what the event is to offer in each activity pod.”

She said each area will have a deejay who will announce the activities that are taking place in each zone and will direct people to the zones in which the lines are shorter.

Scattered among the zones will be a variety of attractions and event sites. These include the new BubbleManiacs Bubble Zone, including an interactive bubble station where participants can be encapsulated in a giant bubble; carnival games; a train ride and a tot spot for children ages 0-5 years.

Taking a cue from amusement parks, event staff members will distribute maps of the event area that also will include the schedule of live entertainment by local groups.

Activity admission tickets will be sold for 50 cents each, and each event will require a designated number of tickets. Ticket booths will be positioned at the north and south entrances to the event site.

Nonprofit organizations selling tickets for their carnival games will receive 90 percent of the ticket sales, Ms. Perez said. Money raised from the other ticket sales will help offset the cost of the event.

The Queen Creek Town Council had approved $24,000 to help pay for the additional expenses created by the venue change, Ms. Perez said. These include the purchase of additional candy for Trunk or Treat Street and Town Center trick-or-treating, a traffic plan and additional ATMs, portable toilets and fencing, she said.

The Zombie Film Festival returns for a second year to Trunk or Treat. Films produced by area teenagers will be screened for free at 7:30 p.m. at the Library Recreation Annex, 21802 S. Ellsworth Road.

The event is open to young filmmakers ages 12-19 who are asked to create a zombie film that is suitable for family viewing and under five minutes in length.

Some filming took place Oct. 1 during an organized event; however, filmmakers who were unable to attend that event are still able to submit an entry on the queencreek.org website.

The winning entry will receive a $100 gift card.

Ben Hauth is a member of Cornerstone Church, which is sponsoring the film festival. He said during a phone interview that four groups participated in the Oct. 1 filmmaking event, the same number of groups who participated last year.

He said the film festival will feature the film entries as well as other holiday-themed events, such as zombie games and a “brains-eating” event featuring strawberry ice cream.

The winning film will be posted on the town’s website and on social media, he said.

New activities

Event staff members also will encourage attendees to vote for the best trunk decoration, the best trunk host and a new competition — best storefront decoration.

“When we moved tothe Town Center, our goal was to engage the businesses there so the community would more aware of them,” Ms. Perez said.

As one way to accomplish this, the business operators were invited to participate in Trunk or Treat by decorating their storefronts and to be part of the Town Center trick-or-treat route. Registered businesses will be listed on the event map as well as on the town’s website, according to www.queencreek.org.

Aqua-Tots Swim School, 21365 S. Ellsworth Road No. 101, is one of several businesses participating in both activities.

“We like to be a part of the community,” general manager Lee Miller said during a phone interview. “Trunk or Treat is geared toward kids and we’re geared toward kids. It was a good fit. Plus, it sounds like fun. Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays.”

Also new this year is the horse-costume contest. It is presented in partnership with the Queen Creek 4-H club and Friends of Horseshoe Park.

Prizes will be awarded to the scariest, most original and best group (horse and ride) costumes, according to the town’s website.

Members of the Friends of Horseshoe Park have some experience dressing up their horses from informal Halloween rides in and around the community, Jon Wootten, a Friends member, said during a phone interview.

He said the groups are looking forward to the event but right now, because of its newness, cannot predict how many people will participate.

“This is a first-time event so we have no clue how many will show up. Registration ends on Oct. 19 so we’ll find out then,” Mr. Wootten said.
Registration is $5 per entry. Complete rules and entry forms can be viewed on the town’s website.

Event parking

Limited parking will be available at the Library Recreation Annex. Free shuttle service to and from the site will be available at Desert Mountain Park, 2220 S. Hawes Road.

News Editor Wendy Miller can be contacted at 480-982-7799 and via e-mail at qcnews@newszap.com, or follow her on Twitter @WendyNewszap123.

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