On Saturday, Oct. 26 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., the University of Utah will welcome families from all over the valley to Officer’s Circle for the annual Officer’s Hollow Halloween. The carnival-style event features trick-or-treating, games, face painting and more. U student volunteers will run the free event.
Officer’s Circle stands near the top of the campus. As students walk up the hill, they see the historic Fort Douglas houses that line the loop. Each is a home for various Living Learning Communities and themed communities. By trick-or-treating in these communities, it creates a safe space for children and brings the local community together.
According to WalletHub in their article “2017 Halloween Facts: Tricks & Treats By the Numbers,” over 41 million children ages five to 14 went trick-or-treating nationwide and 30.8 percent of Americans planned to take their children trick-or-treating. 77 percent of parents are reported to have Halloween-related fears, however. Compared to the average pedestrian casualties, twice as many children are killed by motor vehicles while trick-or-treating on Halloween.
“[Officer’s Hollow Halloween is] very family friendly,” said Senior Program Coordinator of the University of Utah’s Bennion Center, Bryce Williams. “[In] some neighborhoods in the valley, it’s not necessarily safe to go trick-or-treating, so I feel like kids sometimes miss out on that. This is an opportunity for them to have that Halloween experience.”
Mostly planned by the University of Utah’s College of Social Work and the Bachelor of Social Work Student Association, the Residential Halls Association and the Lowell Bennion Community Service Center also chip in for the event with their community homes.
Officer’s Circle is home to the Alliance House, which promotes equity and social justice as a safe space for all gender identities, expressions and sexual orientations. There is also the Bennion Service Home which is focused on giving back to the community. The Crocker Science House is for anyone enrolled in the College of Science. The Emma Eccles Jones Fine Arts House is a theme community for students interested in visual and performing arts. For business majors, there is the First Security Business House. The Kennecott House is reserved for recipients of the Kennecott Scholarship, and students of the College of Engineering or the College of Mines and Earth Sciences. For students studying humanities, there is the O.C. Tanner Humanities House. Closing up the circle is the S.J. Quinney Law House for law students, people active in the Honors College, Honors Legal Scholars and students considering law school.
Each house will host a different family-friendly theme for trick-or-treating that does not stop at the door. The Bennion Center has taken a Pixar theme this year and will include walk-through rooms throughout the house dedicated to family favorites such as “Finding Nemo”, “The Incredibles” and “Toy Story.” As trick-or-treaters walk through the house, they can enjoy various games based on the room’s theme and enter the world of Pixar.
Outside of the U, the Salt Lake Community College Social Work Association also lends a hand. Organizations without houses will take over the lawn just across the street from the houses for more games and activities where children can win prizes and candy.
The first Officer’s Hollow was in 2003 and hosted only by U social work students. Williams, who has worked for the Bennion Center for the past four years and helped with the event back when he was a student at the U, said that the structure of the event has been consistent since the beginning.
“It’s pretty similar to what it has been in the past,” Williams said. “This event has been going on for a number of years now and I think that the structure they have in place now works.”
The only difficulty for the college so far has been reaching their goal in prizes and candy.
“A lot of the student organizations that are doing the lawn games are still looking for candy donations,” Williams said.
The Bennion Center was given a budget of $350 for their house but welcome all of the donations they can get for the event.
This family-friendly event’s description on Facebook says, “The annual Officers Hollow event is organized with the goal of providing a fun environment for children.” Nearly 120 people have already marked that they are interested on the Facebook event page. Officers Hollow will be a wheelchair accessible activity.