North Shore Youth Council had a unique way for young people to dress up in costume and get their trick-or-treating on this Halloween, and all without risks presented during a pandemic of knocking on strangers’ doors.
NSYC hosted what it called its Super Safe Halloween Drive-Thru trick-or-treating event Oct. 31. Volunteers handed out toys and candy and otherwise showcased some of that classic spooky spirit as community members drove around the Joseph A. Edgar Intermediate School in Rocky Point.
Employees and volunteers with the youth council said the event started as a way to help kids enjoy the holiday despite the pandemic.
Nick Mitchko, Alexa Setaro and Tim Barone, who work with NSYC’s child care programs, were dressed up as the now-ubiquitous Marvel characters, Captain America, Captain Marvel and Thanos, respectively. Their plan, they said, was to “save Halloween.”
“During the mid-pandemic, birthday drive-bys became a normal thing, so we felt that doing it this way was the safest way to provide for kids who were missing out on Halloween,” Barone said.
The nonprofit sold over 500 tickets for the event, but they weren’t turning away any families either. Families and their kids dressed the part, and as they rolled down the bus loop at the intermediate school they were greeted with volunteers who either put toys or candy in children’s outstretched bags or shared some spooky spirit. Two young volunteers and Rocky Point students danced their hearts out to some Halloween-themed music.
Mitchko said they were excited by the donations, as they’ve received everything from baby food to meals for Thanksgiving. Setaro said the theme of superheroes really made the point to the local community, with NSYC coming to the rescue for the floundering October holiday.
“Us giving back to them, we’re giving them the feeling of going back to trick-or-treating again,” Setaro said.
Robert Woods, NSYC executive director, said that for several months it was unclear whether there would be anything like a usual Halloween. He was ecstatic to see the level of support from both volunteers and the community.
“We felt it was necessary, a necessary part of the community to do this,” Woods said. “The outpour was unbelievable.”
Admission was effectively free, but folks were asked that they bring some nonperishable food for NSYC to donate to the Island Heart Food Pantry, which operates out of the Mount Sinai Congregational Church, and the food pantry at the Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Rocky Point. By the end of the day, the nonprofit, which supports local youth, saw over 500 families come through with almost twice that amount in donations for those local pantries.
The executive director said they had 70 volunteers, mostly youth workers, come out to support the nonprofit. Local parents and members of the board also donated much of the candy that was handed out to the beaming children. Members of the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps helped direct traffic in and out of the school.
NSYC wanted to thank Anthony’s Star Wars Barber Shop in Rocky Point as well as Stony Brook University Hospital Post Anesthesia Care Unit for their help in putting on the event.