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Trunk tricks transform your car into Halloween fun
Organizers offer tips on creating Halloween illusion for area children
Austin Chitwood, 2, gets help from her grandmother, Suzan Breedlove, walking the plank as Lindsey Stokey, 7, gets ready to make her trip across the plank Saturday. They were testing out the Gainesville First United Methodist Church's pirate ship display created for this year's trunk-or-treat event. - photo by Erin O. Smith


Don Carter State Park

When: 1-2:30 p.m. Oct. 29

Where: 5000 N. Browning Bridge Road, Gainesville

Cost: $5 parking

More info: 678-450-7726 or

First Baptist Church

When: 5:30-7 p.m. Oct. 26

Where: 751 Green St. NW, Gainesville

More info:


Gainesville First United Methodist Church

When: 6:30-8 p.m. Oct. 26

Where: 2780 Thompson Bridge Road, Gainesville

More info: 770-536-2341 or


First Presbyterian Church

When: 6:30 p.m. Oct. 26

Where: 800 S. Enota Drive NE, Gainesville

More info:


Good Shepherd Lutheran Church

When: 4:30-7:30 p.m. Oct. 30

Where: 600 S. Enota Drive NE, Gainesville

More info: 770-532-2428 or

Grace Episcopal Church

When: 5:30-7 p.m. Oct. 26

Where: corner of Washington Street and Boulevard, Gainesville

More info:


McEver Road United Methodist Church

When: 6-8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28

Where: McEver Road United Methodist Church, 3606 McEver Road, Oakwood

More info:


St. Paul United Methodist Church

When: 6-8 p.m. Oct. 26

Where: 404 Washington St., Gainesville

More info:


From pirates to pumpkins to princesses and puppies, trunk-or-treat is a fun way to show off your creativity and celebrate Halloween.

Trunk-or-treating is a play on the traditional trick-or-treating with children going from car to car rather than door to door. It’s also more convenient for children by giving them a shorter walk but the same amount of candy, said Beth Weikel, a member of Gainesville First United Methodist Church. Area churches and colleges in Northeast Georgia will have trunk-or-treats before Halloween.

But staging a trunk-or-treat can test organizers’ creativity. So what can you do to set yourself apart from the rest of the vehicles handing out candy?

Weikel knows. She and 18 members of New Bridge Class at GFUMC have been working on their trunk display for more than a month. And it first started with a single idea.

When coming up with the theme, the church members said they thought like a child.

“A pirate ship and hidden treasure, that’s a fantasy that’s ageless,” Weikel said.

Their pirate-themed display features a ship, a hunt for buried treasure in a sandbox and a photo opportunity with sharks. Children also may walk a makeshift wooden plank above a blue tarp to win a prize.

Five vehicles will be situated together in the parking lot to create the illusion. Some will be draped with blankets or sheets to camouflage the cars and vans, giving the children quite a scene to play in for Halloween.

Weikel advised others wishing to design a unique trunk scene to think simply, choosing a timeless theme and using items already on hand.

“Choose something so you don’t have to go out and purchase everything,” she said, adding items from children’s birthday parties or recycled material from home are good options.

The Rev. Jenny Burns, associate pastor of preschool and special events at First Baptist Church of Gainesville, agreed.

“We’ve had people who’ve used their kids’ stuffed animals, Christmas decorations (and) sports themes with car flags and magnets,” she said. “It really is whatever you can do to make it look nice and festive.”

Burns has been involved with the trunk-or-treat at the church for 10 years. She said her displays are usually pretty simple with decorations she’s found at home. They include items such as pumpkins, scarecrows or hay bales.

She said some people plan out their decorations months in advance while others throw it together in a few minutes.

“You see the creativity and parts of personality,” Burns said of the various decorating styles she’s seen.

After the theme is in place, Weikel advised people to ask for help.

“You don’t have to be a decorating enthusiast,” Weikel said, indicating some people can shop for supplies while others help construct and paint. “Some people have no desire to be a decorator, but they’re really good painters.”

Working together with others also makes the activity fun.

“Getting a pool of two or three together is so much more fun than trying to do it all yourself,” she said.

Next, Weikel says decorators should set the cars in a staging area, such as a garage, ahead of time.

“Collapse it down and stuff it in your trunk,” she said. “Part of the fun of it is to arrive at the church and unpack all of that out of the trunk and set it up.”

GFUMC’s trunk-or-treat is judged with participants only having an hour to set up. Winners are usually awarded gift cards, Weikel said. In the past, her small group has given their prizes to families in need.

Last but not least, everyone dons costumes related to their theme and puts on a fun activity for area children and church neighbors.

“It’s a really cool opportunity to meet neighbors,” Weikel said. “We hope to draw all over the city of Gainesville and from all over the area around First Methodist.”

Burns said the end result is worth it.

“For the people who decorate, there is nothing better than watching all these little kids come by and see them in their costumes,” she said. “They’re so excited.”

GFUMC’s trunk or treat is set for 6:30-8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 26, at 2780 Thompson Bridge Road in Gainesville. The event is open to the public.

First Baptist’s trunk or treat will be 5:30-7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 26, on the front lawn of the church at 751 Green St. NW in Gainesville.