Lehigh University
Lehigh University


Spooktacular scares up some fun

Spooktacular volunteer Dan Grande '10 helps carve pumpkins.

Spooktacular, one of Lehigh’s most successful community events, celebrated its seventh year on Oct. 26, drawing more than 250 South Bethlehem children and their families to campus for an afternoon of frighteningly good fun.

“It was a huge success,” says Marc Palmer ’10, a mechanical engineering major from Brewster, N.Y., and student coordinator for the event for the second year in a row. “Every year, it brings so many Lehigh students together to pull off a great event for local kids and their families. We had 15 student groups that participated – everything from members of the Greek community to the Substance-Free community, ASA, GEM mentors, the Society of Women Engineers and lots of individuals who just wanted to volunteer their time for a good cause.”

All told, organizers say, nearly 200 Lehigh students pitched in to pull off the event, which requires weeks of planning and execution.

Carolina Hernandez, director of community service, says that student groups begin working with her office as early as late August to submit proposals for organizational themes and proposed activities. After meeting with the student coordinator, final decisions are made and the work begins.

The goal, both Palmer and Hernandez agree, is to create the most engaging and innovative series of events and activities for the children, and to involve as many Lehigh volunteers as possible.

“This year’s Spooktacular was spectacular – one of the best we’ve ever had,” says Hernandez. “Marc did an amazing job as student coordinator, and the student clubs and organizations that participated were dedicated and committed and provided great activities for the children.”

Elaine Hardenstine '10 helps local children enjoy a Spooktacular Halloween.

Once a roster of activities is settled upon, the various groups and individuals who proposed them is responsible for supplying all the materials necessary. The Community Service Office promotes the event through nearly 6,000 flyers that are distributed through local elementary schools.

Hernandez added that many of the families that attended were extremely grateful and appreciative of the efforts of the Lehigh students.

“The best part was that we’ve been able to see kids grow through the program,” she says. “Kids that initially came to their first Spooktacular in strollers as toddlers were now experts on the program and helping our tour guides lead the way. Overall, it was an amazing day.”

In some years, as many as 300 local attendees come to the Lehigh campus on a late October afternoon and take part in events that include face painting, pumpkin bowling and trick or treating through the Trembley Apartment complex. The Lehigh student volunteers also convert sections of the University Center into two haunted houses – one for younger children and one for older.

A perennial favorite activity is the pumpkin carving event sponsored by the Psi Upsilon Fraternity.

At that event, fraternity brothers bring in roughly 150 pumpkins grown by local farmers, clean them and then carve the pumpkins for the children, based on patterns they select.

New this year was a “Create Your Own Slime” event that was the brainchild of the Society of Women Engineers, Palmer says, and an educational activity that encouraged children to guess the weight of larger pumpkins based on the smaller pumpkins.

--Linda Harbrecht

Posted on Friday, October 31, 2008

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