A little bit of rain did not stop throngs of princesses, pirates and pop stars from flocking to the Lawn Monday night for the first Trick-or-Treating on the Lawn since 2019. Following two years of cancellations due to the pandemic, the event saw high turnout as Lawn and Pavilion residents handed out candy to students, community members and their children.
Class of 2007 alumnus Kyle Matous recently moved back to Charlottesville and visited with his wife and two-year old son. Matous said that he remembers the event fondly from his time at the University and enjoyed sharing the experience with his family.
“I enjoyed the opportunity to bring my son to the place that means so much to me,” Matous said. “Any opportunity to get the town and the University together in the same place to continue to further develop those relationships is positive.”
The University canceled Trick-or-Treating on the Lawn in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. University spokesperson Bethanie Glover said the organizers decided to bring back the event because of lower COVID-19 transmission in the Charlottesville and Albemarle area.
As a first-time attendee, first-year College student Wyatt Dayhoff volunteered to hand out candy with First Year Council. Dayhoff said he appreciated how the event welcomed community members onto Grounds.
“It’s been nice to see how big of an event this is …. It really brings U.Va. and Charlottesville together, [and an opportunity to] come out and get to interact with people,” Dayhof said.
Among those greeting the families with candy was Larry Sabato, professor of politics and resident of Pavilion IV, in costume as Mike Lindell, founder of the company MyPillow. As a long time Lawn resident, Sabato said he sees the event as a valuable tradition and has attended many times during his 52 years at the University.
“I have had dozens, maybe hundreds, of people mention how much they enjoy [this event], and how they brought their kids here as they were growing up,” Sabato said. “It's so memorable for people. That's great for the University. It's great for the community. It's good to build those relationships.”
Looking back at the event’s past cancellations, Sabato said he hopes attendees will remember the importance of vaccinations in order to ensure that the community can continue to gather.
“I'm so thrilled that we're back to normal more or less,” Sabato said. “I just hope everyone gets vaccinated. That means the flu too, not just COVID-19.”
University President Jim Ryan also attended, handing out candy to trick-or-treaters dressed as character Winnie the Pooh along with the rest of his office.
Another student attending the event with the student councils was Sophia Liao, president of Fourth Year Trustees and fourth-year Commerce student. Since fourth years represent the only class at the University that has experienced a prior Trick-or-Treating on the Lawn, Liao said she was excited for younger students to join the tradition.
“It's great that the community can come back together again,” Liao said. “This is one of the first times after COVID-19 where all of the Charlottesville community, professors, kids, students, faculty, everyone, can come back together.”