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Among the myriad of ways community recreation centers can engage their surrounding neighborhoods, few are more effective than Halloween events. Between the costumes and candy, kids get excited about Halloween, thus making it an excellent occasion for drawing the attention of families.

Three YMCAs from around the country — Jackie Robinson Family YMCA in San Diego, California, YMCA of the Twin Cities in Minnesota, and Treasure Valley Family YMCA in Boise, Idaho — are using the Halloween season as another method of community engagement:

Halloween Festival — Jackie Robinson Family YMCA

Anna Arancibia, Associate Executive Director:

This is our 20th Annual Halloween Festival. We want to make sure we have a safe location for kids to trick or treat, we do arts and crafts, and we have carnival games. We used to have a haunted house, but we shut down for about 18 months and rebuilt our Y, so we’re going to have a haunted trail instead. It’s just a great event for whole families to come to — we also have a bounce house, costume contests, and various performers come out.

Every year, we serve around 2,000 kids and their families — we have a lot of people come through. It’s open to the community, not just to our members, and there’s no stress — it’s free, so they don’t have to worry about paying for anything. And their kids can get candy, do arts and crafts projects, participate in the carnival games, and top it off with going through a haunted trail. They’re able to do it all here.

It’s like clockwork now — we always offer it to the families in our community. Everybody knows about it.

Click here to find out more about the Halloween Festival.

Halloween at the Y — YMCA of the Twin Cities

Joan Schimml, Senior Director of Communications and Marketing:

Starting at the beginning of October, we have several activities planned across the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities. Every event has trick or treating for the kids, a lot of costumes, games and much more.

We have many events for kids, teens and families to enjoy healthy and fun activities for the Halloween season. Each year we create events that connect communities and offer opportunities to participate in a variety of fun games and activities.

Our YMCA members enjoy the Halloween events because they offer ways to have fun for the holiday in a safe environment.

Click here to find out more about Halloween at the Y.

Halloween Run — Treasure Valley Family YMCA

Allison Evaro, Event Coordinator:

It’s an end-of-season mile or 5K run, and this is our sixth year hosting the Halloween Run. We partner with Girls on the Run, and probably over 600 girls show up, along with their parents, running buddies or coaches. It’s also open to the public — last year, we had 1,400 participants and this year, we’re at a little under 1,200.

It’s really fun — everyone dresses up, and it’s super surprising how much people get into wearing costumes while they run. We offer a bounce house for the little kids, and a photo booth that prints out a sheet of photos right there for people. Our shirts all glow in the dark, which seems to be another really big draw. We hand out glow sticks to everyone, and some of the sororities from Boise State are involved in helping make the events spooky for everyone participating.

We want to spread the message that you can do something fun and healthy for Halloween — you don’t have to just eat candy. There are great ways to be active with your family and your community.

Click here to find out more about the Halloween Run.

Bobby Dyer

Bobby is the former editor of Community Rec Magazine.

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