In 2012, when a five-year-old boy with food allergies took a pumpkin and painted it teal, he had no clue he was starting a Halloween trend.
Not only did he paint a teal pumpkin, he put out some non-food treats too. His mom, Becky Basalone, a leader of FACET (Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee), thought this was a great idea.
This way, children with food allergies would have something for their treat bag. Other support groups loved the idea, since teal is the color of food allergy awareness.
Here are some ways that AAFA-affiliated support groups and their families are celebrating four years later.
Partnering with local community events
In addition to holding pumpkin painting parties, some support groups get involved with community events.
In North Carolina, Food Allergy Families of the Triad staffs a table at a traditional “truck and treat” at the Children’s Museum of Winston Salem. This way children with food allergies have a safe option. The event is October 30 at 1 p.m.
“We will be handing out teal mardi gras bead necklaces and little teal bottles of bubbles,” said Angela Fuller, leader and founder of the group. She said in an email that she wants to “reinforce the idea that it's not necessary to have food at an event to have fun. I want to feed their imaginations, not their bellies.”
In Tennessee, FACET will celebrate at the University of Tennessee Gardens, Knoxville, at the UT Institute of Agriculture. Children are invited for food-free trick-or-treating and bat education at “Bewitching Bats” on Saturday, October 22 from 1 to 3 p.m.
In West Virginia, the WV Children's Allergy Alliance (WVCAA) is joining with other sponsors to hold two food-free trunk-or-treats at two local Kroger supermarkets on Saturday, October 29. The Huntington, WV event begins at 10 a.m. and the South Charleston event starts at 4 p.m.
Creating new traditions
Angela, the Food Allergy Families of the Triad support group leader, also created a fun tradition for her son, Holden, now 8, to enjoy. They live in a rural area, so ringing doorbells is not possible, even if he didn’t have food allergies.
She buys small Halloween-themed treat bags and tucks money inside. She hides the bags in the yard and he must find them. Then they visit his grandparents, who have treats Angela approved.
His grandma dresses as a witch and says a funny chant over a cauldron filled with clues in her dimly lit living room. Holden has to pull the clues out of the pot and use them to find the treats.
Angela said the tradition, which started when he was young, is part of her philosophy of raising Holden. He also has a preliminary diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome and a connective tissue disorder.
“Instead of making him ‘fit in’ to unsafe situations, I have taught him to create his own tradition, his own way of celebrating,” she wrote. “He is different in so many ways and I do everything I can to celebrate it so he is empowered by his differences, not discouraged.” She said his favorite saying is "It's lame to be the same,” which he created himself.
Donating to libraries
In Pennsylvania, a support group donated a Kyle Dine DVD and food allergy awareness books to 13 libraries in Chester County.
Jenine Lawton, the leader of Parents Having Allergic Children Team (PHACT), gave the libraries a list of books to look over.
She asked that the libraries make sure that each bundle contain a DVD, one adult reference book, one cookbook, and one or two children's books.
Lawton delivered the bundles along with a painted teal pumpkin.
More ways to #KeepItTeal
Discover more ways to celebrate teal pumpkins and #KeepItTeal with KFA. You can also add your home to the Teal Pumpkin Project map so trick-or-treaters know you are offering non-food treats. Kids With Food Allergies is a supportive partner of the Teal Pumpkin Project™.