The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

Candy for the Soul: Seeking Safety, Lewiston Trick-or-Treaters Come to Bates

On Tuesday Oct. 31, 2023, from approximately 5:30-7:00 p.m., Alumni Walk bustled with Buzz Lightyears, Spidermen, princesses and witches. What had been a ghost town only a few days prior, due to the mass shootings at nearby Just-In-Time Recreation and Schemengees Bar and Grille perpetrated by army reservist Robert Card, was overrun with trick or treaters. 

In response to the tragedy in Lewiston, Bates organized an on-campus Halloween event for the kids of the city and their parents to trick-or-treat. The event was spearheaded by the Harward Center for Community Engagement and Student Affairs in coordination with Dining, Conferences and Campus Events (DCCE) and Campus Safety. According to Darby Ray, Director of the Harward Center for Community Partnerships (HCCP) and Donald W. and Ann M. Harvard Professor of Civic Engagement, a Lewiston city counselor reached out to the Harward Center, inquiring “if [Bates] might be able to provide a super safe feeling, trick or treating event.”

A cross-campus planning team formed, coordinating with students who had begun to organize houses on Frye and White Streets to accommodate any trick or treaters that stopped by. This provided a more “traditional trick or treating environment” as opposed to the on-campus candy stations run by Bates sports teams and clubs. Ray added that the latter option provided an organized parade down main campus which mitigated “having kids and families running all over the place.”

As a part of the Community Liaison program, every sports team and club has a community liaison who is a student leader “whose job is to connect their club or team to the off-campus community in instructive and ethical ways” described Ray. “We sent an email out to the community liaison[s] and said here’s the sign-up sheet, sign up to do this and it filled up in 30 minutes. We just kept adding spots because there was clearly so much student interest in doing this,” continued Ray. 

In the end, 36 teams, clubs and residence halls signed up to manage on-campus candy stations, while about 20 houses on Frye and White Streets entertained trick or treaters. 

“Students showed up in costumes and with jam boxes and it was just pure bliss, pure joy, that’s how I would describe it,” said Ray. “It was just amazing. I was so proud of our students and so delighted to have the off-campus community come onto campus at such a crucial time and have such a joyful experience.”

Fourth grader Amal Abdiaziz described her trick or treating experience as “fun.” She said that “everybody was just so kind and we got to take as much candy as we wanted!” 

There was no shortage of chocolate and gummies. The Red Cross donated the majority of the candy, while teams and clubs supplemented. “We had over 40,000 pieces of candy,” said Ray. In addition to donating candy, Red Cross volunteers handed out hot chocolate, donuts and blankets to trick or treaters. “I think after a trauma like a mass shooting just to be able to be together and feel safe and connected to one another is a step towards healing. And that was certainly evidenced that night,” said Ray.

Sophomore Elsie Hall described the rewarding experience of handing out candy on Frye Street: “We had a lot of parents with their kids thanking us because it was a fun, safe environment for their kids to enjoy Halloween when they had been too scared to even leave their house before. It was a really meaningful thing to the community.”

When interviewed, Ray recounted the many parents who reached out thanking the college and students. Signed off as “the parent of Bob Ross and Bob Ross’s painting (costumes),” one email addressing the Bates College Student body said. “As a parent with younger children, these past few years have been rough at Halloween time. The trick-or-treating experience has been drastically affected by the events of the past couple of years, and all of you helped in turning that around. I am fairly certain you made some families’ nights last night, as you helped make them feel like they are part of a community again.” 

Sharing similar sentiments, Ray described the event as a healing experience, helping shift kids “back into a space of childhood and joy instead of fear.” When asked whether Bates will host a similar event next year, Ray chuckled, saying, “I think [Bates] would like to make it an annual tradition” once budgetary limitations are discussed. She added that the reviews from both the student body and wider Lewiston community were overwhelmingly positive. 

“At the Harward Center our approach to community engagement is to respond to community needs. It’s not about us deciding what the community needs or anything like that,” Ray stated. “This idea really came from the community; it came from a need in the community that was articulated…And we all came together, and the results were quite amazing.”

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About the Contributor
Zoe Schaedle
Zoe Schaedle, Managing News Editor
Zoe is a Sophomore from Philadelphia, PA. She is currently undecided, but is leaning towards a double major in History and Classical and Medieval Studies. In her free time, Zoe enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, volunteering, going to the beach, cooking, or playing/watching sports.    Previously, Zoe served as a staff writer for The Student as a first year. She is also on the Bates Women’s Lacrosse team, and is an active mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Maine.

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