Quirky Questions with Project Pumpkin co-chairs

John Yang, Reporter

One day a year, hoards of young people flock to Norris with different priorities in mind. They’re not yet concerned about checking out college campuses or making a Norbucks run on their way to a student group meeting – they’re kids donning Halloween costumes in pursuit of candy. Introduced in the late 1980s, Project Pumpkin is an annual event where local Evanston kids can trick-or-treat before Halloween. It features Halloween-themed rooms, booths with fun activities run by Northwestern student volunteers and plenty of candy. With approximately 1,000 costume-clad children attending, Project Pumpkin is one of the largest student-run community service projects at Northwestern. Before this year’s event, The Current asked co-chairs Heather Ma, Sheena Desai and Lauren Keating some quirky questions.

The Current: What’s your favorite candy?
Heather Ma: My favorite candy is Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups with dark chocolate.
Sheena Desai: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups — or Kit Kat; I have two actually … or Snickers!
Lauren Keating: Take 5. There’s a nice mixture that I like.

The Current: What’s the craziest costume you’ve ever seen?
Ma: Well last year for Project Pumpkin, our two co-chairs were the board game “Hungry (Hungry) Hippos.” They each had a hippo head made of cardboard. It was ridiculous, but pretty cool.
Desai: This is so hard. I don’t know if this is crazy, but the YouTube video guy saying “Hide your kids. Hide your wives…” I think his name is Antoine Dodson. I thought that was pretty ridiculous.
Keating: One time I saw someone dressed up as a horse. That was kind of strange. I saw a giant chicken, too; not on the same day though.

The Current: What is your favorite Halloween memory?
Ma: It’s just going back to my childhood. After a full night of trick-or-treating, I went back to my house with my friends. (We) spilled our candies all over the floor and traded which ones we wanted.
Desai: The year when I got the most candy. I came back and dumped all of my candy on my bedroom floor and my mom came in saying, “Hey, we are donating all of our candies!” and I was like, “You’re joking, right?”
Keating: I was 7 or 8 and we had just gotten back from trick-or-treating a couple of hours before. I was in my (room) and my brother came in to say goodnight, but I jumped out of the covers and scared him so bad that he started crying. … He’s older than me.

The Current: What do you think about extending trick-or-treating hours in Evanston?
Desai: To be honest, I don’t think that it should be extended because we have Project Pumpkin at Northwestern, and that is hours on top of the trick-or-treating hours that kids already have. They can always come here!
Keating: Three hours is pretty good for kids to get around the neighborhoods, I’d say. But if you are a smart trick-or-treater, you’d just go to the neighborhoods around the lake so you could get really big candy bars. Closer you get to the lake, the bigger the candy bars get.

The Current: Why do you think this trick-or-treating matter wasn’t mentioned in any of the previous presidential debates?
Keating: That would be a “sticky situation” to get involved with. It’s just a controversial topic, let’s be honest. (The candidates) wouldn’t want to get involved with that now because it could swing the election.

The Current: Do you think kids in Evanston will form a union in the near future to petition for longer hours?
Keating: If they really want to see a change in the trick-or-treating community and the type of audience trick-or-treating attracts, maybe they should organize to extend the hours and get more kids involved. It depends on how outgoing and willing they are to work to get their candy.

The Current: If you could be any candy, what would you be?
Ma: If I could be any candy … I would have to go with Twix because they have a little bit of everything.
Desai: This is hard. … I would be a Twix because there are a lot of ingredients that go in a Twix, and I have a lot of different sides of myself.
Keating: Hardest question of them all. Gummy bear – everyone loves them. They are squishy, very colorful and technically huggable.