The community of Clifton Springs, New York, attends a popular Halloween festival every year called Spooktacular. Families come in costume for the games, hayrides, pumpkin decorating, haunted house and dance party. And, of course, the trick-or-treating.
Stasi, a member of the Kids With Food Allergies (KFA) community, wanted to take her two daughters to the festival. But she was concerned the event wouldn’t be fun or safe for 2-year-old Aria. Aria is allergic to egg, milk, peanut, soy and peas.
After hearing about TEALOWEEN on the KFA community, Stasi had an idea to see if she could make Spooktacular more food-allergy friendly. TEALOWEEN is where families put teal pumpkins in front of their homes and hand out non-food treats to children with food allergies on Halloween. Stasi thought businesses who set up booths and hand out treats could give allergy-friendly treats too. She contacted the festival organizers, and they loved the idea.
“I wanted to bring this to my community because I’ve never seen it here and thought this is a great way to include everyone, be safe and educate people about teal pumpkins and food allergies,” Stasi said. “I just want to start the conversation. I want people to understand how scary food allergies really are. And for the families out there dealing with food allergies to see they aren't alone. I hope that by incorporating teal pumpkins into the festival, it will raise awareness and people may choose to participate in handing out safe items themselves.”
Stasi and Aria then set out to get local businesses participating in the festival on board. She handed out letters explaining what teal pumpkins mean at Halloween. She told them she would give them teal pumpkins and a basket of allergy-friendly and non-food treats to give away during the festival. She then asked other businesses to donate the giveaways.
The response was amazing. Local businesses donated hundreds of items for the event:
- Walmart: Halloween toys and favors
- BJ’s Wholesale Club: gift card to purchase toys
- McDonald’s: more than 100 Happy Meal toys
- Family Dollar: various items
- Tops Markets: allergy-friendly candy
- Sherwin Williams: empty paint buckets to carry treats
- Lowe’s: teal spray paint
- Walgreens: various items
- Sunbutter: Sunbutter samples
- Wholesome: allergy-friendly lollipops and gummy bears
- Willowbend Farms: pumpkins
the Spooktacular event.
Stasi also got her local library involved. Before the festival, the Clifton Springs Library held a teal pumpkin decorating event. The library also encouraged local people to register their homes on a teal pumpkin map for trick-or-treaters with food allergies.
Many children with food allergies were able to enjoy the local event. And thanks to Stasi and Aria, the Clifton Springs community is now more food allergy aware.
“I’m really proud of everyone,” said Stasi. “I’m so grateful for all the help and just to know people care. I’m really excited to hear how all the kids enjoyed it and for all of them to be included in a holiday that is always centered around food.”