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Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2019:10:31 20:27:00

The Hibbard family of Tunkhannock dressed as the three blind mice. (Photo courtesy of Ashley Pashke)

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2019:10:31 20:24:52

Pastor Stephen Merkh, Hannah Merkh and their children, Ellena and Jack set up an old fashioned General Store to hand out candy at Hillside Haven Community Church's 'trunkless' trunk-or-treat on Oct. 31. (Photo courtesy of Ashley Pashke)

S. ABINGTON TWP. — With rain and wind in the forecast on Oct. 31, Halloween events were cancelled or rescheduled in many communities. But one church in the Abingtons decided to adjust its plans and brought trick-or-treating indoors.

Hillside Haven Community Church on Noble Road hosted its annual trunk-or-treat. Church members planned to decorate cars and don costumes to hand out candy in the parking lot. But when rain loomed, they adjusted, making it a “trunk-less” trunk-or-treat instead.

The church decided to move the event indoors and, with the help of volunteers, cleared the auditorium of chairs and set up displays by Thursday evening.

Fourteen different themed areas were set up around the auditorium. Just after 6 p.m. on Oct. 31, the doors opened and a line of trick-or-treaters came in out of the rain.

The church kept the coffee and hot cocoa station flowing through the evening. Volunteers distributed extra candy to each display to make sure no one ran out. Candy was donated in the weeks leading up to Halloween. Volunteers were thankful those reserves were available, as more little princesses, dragons and super heroes than expected came out to enjoy the free community event.

Organizers reported almost 700 people attended. Many from the Abingtons but also families from as far away as Wilkes-Barre, Pittston and the Scranton area came out to enjoy the family-friendly event.

“At Hillside Haven Community Church, we want to be a blessing to our surrounding community,” Crystal Killian shared.

Killian serves on staff at the church and was one of the event organizers.

“One way we bless our community is opening our church up for a safe, fun, trunk or treat for kids,” she said. “With this trunk-or-treat specifically, with the surprise of the weather and having to move indoors last minute, it was a blessing to see our volunteers and church individuals adapt to the change. We saw a lot more people attend with it being an indoor event. ... Hundreds came through the door and one of their first responses was, ‘Thank you for having a trunk-or-treat indoors for my kids on Halloween.’ It was exciting to see the costumes and the smiles on their faces.”

A friendly competition was also part of the evening as each attendee received a ticket to use as a vote for his or her favorite trunk-less display. Church members created themed set ups that included Toy Story, Little Red Riding Hood, and an old-fashioned general store. Every stop was assigned a number, and buckets at the exit were used to collect tickets as votes for favorites. An Alice in Wonderland display with a rabbit hole tunnel for small children to crawl through, a giant mushroom, mad hatter’s tea party and the Queen of Hearts won first place.

The cold and wet weather outside didn’t dampen the spirits of the people inside.

“Hillside Haven is a gospel-believing church that values people,” Pastor Don Roe said. “This is one way we can show our community that they are important to us. On a windy, rainy, Halloween night, almost 700 people came in to a safe and dry place. We were happy to do this for our community and had a great time.”

For information on future events at Hillside Haven Community Church, visit the church’s Facebook page.