Local youth trick-or-treat at annual NCDC event, Project Pumpkin


Evan Robinson-Johnson/Daily Senior Staffer

Abigail Hernandez and Hector Baez pose with their six months old daughter Daenerys at Project Pumpkin on Tuesday. Hernandez lives in downtown Chicago and said Project Pumpkin is a much safer alternative to typical Halloween festivities.

Maia Spoto, Reporter

Costumed children roamed Norris University Center Tuesday evening, carrying bags of candy as they passed by inflatable Halloween-themed animals and cobwebbed walls.

About 800 children from Evanston and the Chicago area came to Northwestern Community Development Corps’ annual Project Pumpkin trick-or-treating event, according to Val Buchanan, NCDC’s adviser. Student volunteers led children in costume from room to room, where they played spooky games, jumped in a bounce castle and trick-or-treated at booths run by more than 60 student organizations.

“Often, people from the community feel like they don’t have a place on campus where they can come,” Buchanan said. “Tonight is a night all about transforming Norris to make it kid-friendly, accessible and family-friendly.”

Due to the ongoing Chicago Public Schools teachers’ strike, fewer schools from the city attended this year, Buchanan said. However, nonprofits and Evanston’s public schools still brought their groups, and families also walked in individually.

Susana Salgado, youth program director for Chicago nonprofit Centro Romero, has brought 60 to 70 Centro Romero children to Project Pumpkin every year for the last five years.

“This is one of the field trips that they’re looking forward to the most,” Salgado said, dressed as DC Comics character Harley Quinn. “When school starts in September, they’re like, ‘When are we going to Project Pumpkin at Northwestern University?’… I’m all dressed up too, because it’s one of the field trips that I love the most.”

During her five years coming to Project Pumpkin, Salgado said the event has become much more organized. She said she appreciates having volunteers from the University show her students around Norris so the students can experience everything. Also, Salgado said her students draw inspiration from the games at Project Pumpkin when crafting their own Children’s Day celebration.

Patryk Kot, a Communication junior who helped run Delta Sigma Pi’s booth, said Project Pumpkin plays an important role in connecting Northwestern students with the world beyond campus.

“You get to interact with your community and not just stay in your own little bubble,” Kotz said.

Jasmine Wright, an administrative assistant at the University, brought her daughter to Project Pumpkin for the first time this year.

She said the event was bigger than she expected.

“This is my daughter’s first Halloween,” Wright said. “We’re excited to see her reactions to other kids in costume and give her freedom to roam around with other kids.”

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