Local children come to Norris for Project Pumpkin

Christine Nguyen

Hundreds of Evanston and Chicago-area children clad in princess attire and animal-wear crowded Norris University Center on Thursday for Project Pumpkin, a two-and-a-half hour event of indoor trick-or-treating, face painting and dozens of other Halloween festivities.

The annual fall event, which took place from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., is sponsored by the Northwestern Community Development Corps, a student organization dedicated to building mutually beneficial relationships between Northwestern and Evanston and Chicago-area communities. NCDC members and volunteers transformed the second floor of Norris for the Halloween event, complete with scary decorations, volunteers dressed in outlandish costumes and a haunted house.

“This is probably one of my favorite days of the year,” NCDC Co-Chair Rachel Rosen said. “It’s just always so much fun. We usually have about 1,000 kids total, both from our volunteer sites and the Evanston community.”

Dozens of NU student groups, residential colleges and Greek organizations participated, with each providing different activities, including craft-making, pumpkin bowling, palm reading and cookie decorating. Students not participating with an organization were given the opportunity to volunteer as chaperones.

“I just love Halloween and little kids and having fun,” McCormick freshman and student chaperone MaryBeth O’Neil said. “My job is pretty much to take them from room to room, be altogether enthusiastic and pump them up about Halloween.”

Official Evanston trick-or-treating hours are from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday , according to the City of Evanston website, and while trick-or-treating outside of those hours is not illegal, it is not encouraged.

For Chicago resident Linda Kimbrough-Sneed, who came to Project Pumpkin with her granddaughter, lack of safety is a deal-breaker.

“It’s best for children to have a curfew for them to be safe,” Kimbrough-Sneed said. “I’ve never been here before, but (my granddaughter) has, and I hear it’s a great event so we’re back for a second year.”

The event was open to the public and free for any children participating. Attendees included children from community centers, after-school programs and other service organizations in the Evanston and Chicago areas. NCDC provided buses for any volunteer sites that needed help transporting kids to and from Northwestern for the event.

“We have 34 kids with us today and they love coming here,” said Lawrence Carter, youth leadership manager at the McGaw YMCA, 1000 Grove St. “I’ve been coming here for six years. It’s just something we always do. I’ve worked at organizations in Chicago, Evanston, all around and we always come here.”

For six-year-old Cenaya Temple, however, Project Pumpkin was not all fun and games.

“There was a man with a white mask,” she said after leaving the haunted house. “It was so scary. I almost peed my pants.”

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(Editor’s note: This article incorrectly stated the number of children participating in Project Pumpkin. The article has been edited with the correct number. The Daily regrets the error.)