Thursday, November 30, 2023
Three youth group members dressed up as mice, calling themselves the Three Mousketeers. Left to right are teenagers Parker Moore, Spencer Steckelberg and Parker Holton. One station at the Associated Church where children could trick or treat was the Lion’s Den, complete with Stefan Langendam, who was dressed as a lion in the cage.Gary Jones works on a “Hello Kitty” jack-o-lantern for his daughters during the pumpkin carving event. Shelia Brandt dresses as Morgan le Fay from the Magic Tree House book series. She gave out books and candy to visiting children.

Local church celebrates Halloween

One may not have found ghosts, goblins or grim reapers, but the Pumpkin Carving and Trunk or Treat event at the Associated Church in Owatonna offered plenty of fun for kids and adults on Friday night.  

In its fifth year, the pumpkin carving event was organized by the Ministry Team at Associated Church. The pumpkin carving is held in the fellowship area, offering an opportunity for kids and adults to bring in their pumpkins and carving utensils and have some fun preparing for Halloween.  

Leslea Partridge, a member of the Associated Church ministry team and co-organizer of the event, said that the evening is fun for families, as well as practical.  

“We advertise keeping the mess at church and taking your pumpkins home in the car,” said Partridge. “It’s kind of a practice for kids for Halloween, [and] just kind of a chance for people to gather and fellowship casually.” 

Rather than focus on the darkness often associated with the holiday, organizers of the annual event created a very positive atmosphere agreeable to all ages. Lights were kept on, smiles abounded and the scariest song one might have heard was “Cruella De Vil” from “101 Dalmatians.” 

Instead of walking through haunted halls, kids and adults sat at tables full of pumpkin flesh and seeds, paving their knives through pumpkin skin, creating unique faces and even one “Hello Kitty” design. Snacks and drinks were available and songs played throughout the rooms.  

“It’s a blast,” said Gary Jones, a father at the event who was working on the “Hello Kitty” jack-o-lantern for his children. “Sometimes there’s more kids, sometimes there isn’t as many, [but] we have a lot of fun.” 

 Carol Hacmac, another organizer of the event, said her favorite thing about the event is the creativity involved.  

“Every year the kids do something completely different,” said Hacmac. “It’s just amazing how creative these kids are. They are very elaborate some years.” 

That creativity needed to go up another notch this year, as rainy weather caused teens and adults to have to rethink some of their original plans.  

One upsetting factor of the night was the canceled bonfire, which had proven to be a big hit in recent years.  

“In the past we’ve had bonfires and we do smores,” said Partridge, “but today’s not bonfire weather.” 

Though the bonfire had to be canceled, the Children and Youth Ministry team refused to cancel its Trunk or Treat event. Hosting the event for the first time, the ministry team decided to simply move the decorations inside. 

“Typically, you decorate your trunk and dress up,” said Partridge.  

Improvising, youth and leaders moved the event inside and decorated rooms throughout the church. These included several different rooms. Dressed up teenagers gathered in the youth room in various outfits, including three boys who dressed up as mice and called themselves “The Three Mousketeers.” One woman and her husband decorated an entryway to resemble the “Magic Tree House” room. Shelia Brandt dressed up as Morgan le Fay from the book series and offered books to children along with some candy. Lastly, was the Lion’s den, a jungle-themed room complete with a caged lion – or at least a man dressed as a lion.  All stations were ready and willing to hand out to any kids who made their way to the room.  

Hosting the event a full eight days before Halloween day, Partridge said the overall goal was simply to help families prepare for the holiday in a fun way.  

“It’s a multi-generational event,” said Partridge. 

While a church building may not be the average community member’s first idea of a place to celebrate Halloween, the ministry team at the Associated Church managed to create a fun atmosphere for kids and adults of all ages. Instead of the usual spider webs and skeleton one might often find at a Halloween party, the ministry team continued to provide an uplifting environment for all generations to come and celebrate the season. Some ill-timed autumn rain may have put a damper on some of the usual festivities and lowered the usual attendance, but leaders rolled with the punches and did their best to create a fun environment for any who were looking to celebrate the holiday a little early. 

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