Despite coronavirus concerns, some area churches continued with trunk-or-treat traditions in an effort to maintain a sense of normalcy for children.
Churches that participated took extra precautions to protect members and visitors from possible exposure.
Kingston Pike Baptist Church in Lenoir City prepared more than 1,000 plastic bags of candy for the event, the Rev. Gary Lynn, pastor, said. Masks and gloves were worn for safety. Attendees parked in the church’s lower parking lot while they visited at cars stationed 6 feet apart in the upper parking lot. Church members stood behind large tables to keep an appropriate distance.
A fellowship dinner usually held to celebrate the holiday at Grace Baptist Church on Ford Road was canceled.
The Rev. Jeff Waldrop, pastor, said hosting the trunk-or-treat wasn’t a “big issue” due to the event being outside.
“We did talk about whether we would or would not have it,” Waldrop said. “Our church has experienced some COVID, and, of course, we had to shut down several weeks ago. We understand the concern. … Considering the fact it’s outside, and we can social distance as best as possible, and we’re not going to be on top of each other, we felt like it would be safe to go ahead and do that.”
Pine Grove Presbyterian Church in Greenback hosted a drive-through trunk-or-treat. Church members set up vehicles as they usually would, but visitors stayed in their cars as prepackaged candy was passed through windows.
“They figured this was a little less risk and nobody milling around bumping into one another if we kept them in their cars,” Ed Brooks, media and fellowship chairman, said. “… It’s not normal by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s better than nothing. It’s better than having them stay home and not be able to participate. There’s some youngins where this is their first year, and there’s some youngins where this is their last year.”
Lynn and Brooks said it’s important to try to maintain some normalcy during the pandemic.
COVID-19 has created chaos for everyone, Lynn said. He understands Thanksgiving and Christmas are going to be different for some families because they won’t be able to gather with all their loved ones who may be in nursing homes or rehabilitation centers.
“In the middle of all this chaos, we want to find a little something that we normally did,” Lynn said. “I guess maybe for nothing more than to give people a little break in all this chaos that’s going on, especially with all the stuff that’s going on with the election, all the stuff that’s going on with coronavirus, all the stuff that’s going on with mandates and quarantines and everything. We all just felt like this was something we needed to do.”
With abnormalities throughout the year, trunk-or-treat lets kids feel like something is back on track but stay safe doing it, Brooks said.
“The majority of these youngins, up until school time, were stuck at home,” he said. “They got yanked from school and couldn’t go anywhere, do anything, and it’s important that everything needs to get back to normal. We’re going to have to just be careful and wash our hands and use sanitizer and don’t be coughing or breathing on anybody. We can’t live indoors all of our lives.”
For Waldrop, trunk-or-treat is mostly about a time to get together and reconnect, which is a big aspect of church and community.
“I’ve just felt like, especially everything we’ve been through as a church and our community as well, it’s a good time for people to come together in a safe manner and to have some fellowship with one another,” Waldrop said. “I think community fellowship is a good thing. Church fellowship is a good thing. It’s healthy, and it’s always been a part of our community and our church, and we don’t want to stop that from being a part of this year.”