Trunk or Treat! More than 1,000 show up for Zion's Halloween event

Judging by the number of treats, toys and other gifts — including free tacos! — that were distributed during Zion Lutheran Church's Halloween Trunk or Treat, more than 1,000 costumed kids (and some parents too) showed up for the event on Sunday, Oct. 31. It was roughly double the attendance at previous trunk or treat events, which Zion started hosting seven years ago.

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This Jurassic Park-themed trunk was a popular stop during the Halloween Trunk or Treat event hosted by Detroit Lakes' Zion Lutheran Church on Sunday, Oct. 31. Event organizers also judged this entry as the "spookiest" trunk out of the 27 included in this year's event. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)

Though the first Halloween Trunk or Treat event hosted by Detroit Lakes' Zion Lutheran Church seven years ago exceeded expectations — with between 500-600 kids showing up rather than the anticipated 300 — that amazing inaugural turnout was eclipsed by the numbers seen this Sunday, Oct. 31, when more than 1,000 costumed kids showed up to collect all the tasty treats, toys and other gifts handed out during the two-hour event.

The line for Zion Lutheran Church's Halloween Trunk or Treat curled all the way through a side parking lot and out onto the street on the opposite side of the church for most of the two-hour event on Sunday, Oct. 31. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)

"We didn't really keep track (of numbers)," said Guy Roberts, senior pastor of Zion Lutheran. "But one of our volunteers said they gave away all 1,000 pencils they had — with one pencil per kid — and there were more than 800 tacos served."

Roberts noted that Zion Lutheran members — and La Barista owners — Brooke and Courtney Wenzel had not only sponsored a taco-themed "trunk" for this year's event, but they also brought their Epic Taco food truck along and handed out free tacos to all participants, regardless of whether they came in costume or not.


"That was very generous of them," he added.

The Wenzels took one of the "best trunk" prizes home for their efforts, added Katelyn Haarstick, the church's family life coordinator. "We had three prizes, for spookiest, tastiest and best designed — they were voted the tastiest."

Brooke Wenzel and her kids dressed up as tacos and salsa for the Halloween Trunk or Treat event held at Detroit Lakes' Zion Lutheran Church on Sunday, Oct. 31. The Wenzels also won the "tastiest trunk" entry for bringing along their Epic Taco food truck to the event and distributing free tacos for all, giving out more than 800 of them. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)

The other prizes went to a Jurassic Park-themed entry, for "spookiest," and a Cookie Monster-themed trunk for best designed.


This Cookie Monster-themed trunk was voted "best designed" at Zion Lutheran Church's Halloween Trunk or Treat on Sunday, Oct. 31. Prizes were also given out for the spookiest and tastiest trunk entries — there were 27 in all. More than 1,000 kids turned out for the two-hour event. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)

"It really looked like the Cookie Monster," Haarstick said of the latter entry. The judging was done by a "secret" panel of three judges, who quietly made their rounds to check out all 27 trunks included in the event.

"We had a few 'firsts' this year," said Askelson, noting that the church had opted not to serve their usual ham-and-cheese sandwiches due to the addition of the taco truck to this year's lineup, and they also invited local businesses to contribute "trunks" for the first time, instead of just including church members.

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More than 1,000 kids and parents took part in Sunday's Halloween Trunk or Treat event at Zion Lutheran Church in Detroit Lakes, where they had a chance to stop at 27 different "trunk stops" including this patriotic one. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)

"It started when Mahube (Otwa) called us and asked if they could have a trunk there," said Sally Askelson, who co-chaired the planning for this year's Trunk or Treat, along with Amanda Sieve.

Haarstick noted that other businesses and organizations sponsoring trunks for this year included the aforementioned La Barista as well as Snappy Company, Health Resources, Hospice of the Red River Valley and the Detroit Lakes Fire Department — though the firefighters had brought their fire trucks to the event before, Roberts added.

Askelson said that they had planned for big numbers, due to the fact that this year's event was held on Halloween, instead of the Sunday preceding it (as had been the case for previous Trunk or Treat events).


Nevertheless, they barely had enough candy to satisfy all the hungry trick-or-treaters, Roberts noted.

"We had one small bag (of candy) left at the end," Haarstick said. "But we didn't run out."

All in all, organizers were quite happy with the event turnout, and how it went overall.

"A lot of the comments I heard were about how it was great not to have to go from house to house, all over the place, and they still covered a lot of ground," Askelson said, adding that a lot of homes around the church saw large numbers of trick-or-treaters as well.

"It was a safe, fun place for families to go," Haarstick added.

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