Due to inclement weather, the University’s annual Trick-or-Treating on the Lawn hosted by Housing and Residential Life took place Friday evening, the day after Halloween. University community members and Charlottesville residents flooded the Lawn wearing creative costumes to receive treats from student volunteers and rescue squad workers.
Over 100 CIOs participated in passing out treats at the event, averaging at a total of $125 to $300 spent on candy in total.
The University paired with The Soho Center this year, which provided two free books for every trick-or-treater. Originally established in New York, The Soho Center has been providing free, new books to children for 48 years — supporting classrooms, children’s hospitals and Title 1 Public schools.
Also new this year, Lawn rooms 10 and 27 were designated as “sensory spaces” in order to provide a comforting environment for children with sensory processing disorders. Lawn Pavilion V has been available as a safe space in past years, but this is the first year established rooms were officially publicized.
Brett Goerl, fourth-year College student and co-president of Autism Allies, lives in one of the rooms that was offered as a safe space. He partnered with Elizabeth Wat, the co-President of Best Buddies, to create locations where children can go when feeling overwhelmed by the activities on the Lawn.
“They can come in here and relax,” Goerl said, “We have the lights dim, white noise playing some sensory friendly toys and lights. So we just wanted to offer that for everyone.”
About an hour into the event, Goerl reported that several families had already taken advantage of the space. Children that entered the rooms found it easy to relax and shortly returned to the festivities. Goerl hopes that in the future, they are able to make parents more aware about the accessibility of these spaces.
Rescue squad volunteer Jullianna LaRose, a fourth-year in the College, has been attending Trick-or-Treating on the Lawn since her first-year and also recognized the importance of making children feel safe. Standing next to an open ambulance with children climbing in and out, LaRose described the importance of forming bonds between local rescue workers and the community.
“I think we just like to form great connections with the community and just to show that we have friendly faces,” LaRose said. “It might be scary for them to see inside the trucks. Get them to explore and just know that we're here for the community.”
Senior Lawn Resident Keiara Price confirmed that establishing a sense of community is the main focus of this annual event.
“I think it is one of the few organized moments in which UVA does not place itself in a bubble,” Price stated. “The Lawn as a physical space truly becomes public and centers the joy of not only its students and faculty but also that of the Charlottesville community.”
Alexandra Williams, a fourth-year in the Curry School, attended Trick-or-Treating on the Lawn as a student volunteer with her CIO, the National Students Speech Language Hearing Association. This is the first year Williams has volunteered, but she enjoyed “seeing all the little kids,” and said “it’s just really fun and really happy.”
Price echoed this emotion with her comment “At the end of the day, Trick or Treating on the Lawn is about the families that attend and the memories that the kids get to leave with.”
CORRECTION: This article previously misspelled Elizabeth Wat’s last name and has been updated for accuracy.