ELKTON — With their trunks open to display bowls of candy and other treats, more than 40 vehicles were parked in Elkton High School’s lower lot on Saturday and their owners stood or sat beside them.
Those cars, pickup trucks and SUVS were like homes and that parking lot was like a neighborhood on a Halloween night, as hundreds of costumed youngsters toting bags and containers made the rounds with their parents to collect all sorts of goodies.
Such was the scene at the annual trunk-or-treat event, just one of the activities occurring during the Spooktacular Fall Festival. The event was the product of a Drug Free Cecil Youth Coalition brainstorming session earlier this year
The festival was held in conjunction with National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, a twice-annual event in which residents in Cecil County and throughout the United States can safely discard unwanted and expired prescription medications at drop-off stations manned by law enforcement officers.
There was a collection station in front of EHS and, amid the two-hour-long festival, residents dropped off enough qualifying medication to fill at least two garbage bags, according to event planners.
All of the unwanted or expired medication collected outside EHS, as well as at seven headquarters or stations belonging to police agencies in Cecil County will be safely destroyed. All police agencies in Cecil County also have year-round collection boxes for unwanted or expired prescription medications.
“This was a huge success,” said Beth Creek, executive director of Youth Empowerment Source, the Elkton-based agency overseeing the Drug Free Cecil Youth Coalition. “We had 42 trunks for the trunk-or-treat and we had 20-some vendors here.”
Part of a coinciding community health fair — another facet of the festival — many of those vendors were representing organizations and agencies, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration, that work to educate the public concerning drug abuse and about available resources to battle addiction.
That message also resounded from a podium near the outside entrance to the school’s gymnasium, where local, state and federal leaders in the fight for a drug-free community made speeches.
It also was where representatives of local organizations and agencies, including Sheriff Scott Adams and Richard Brooks, who is director of the Cecil County Department of Emergency Services, received recognition for their efforts in battling drugs.
Kendall Ehrlich, who is deputy director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy and is a former Maryland first lady, presented the awards.
More than 1,000 people attended the Spooktacular Fall Festival, which also offered a couple of bounce houses for kids and at least one food truck, according to Creek.
At one point, the attendees’ vehicles filled EHS parking lots, in addition to ones at nearby Gilpin Manor Elementary School, Creek said.
Overflow parking also was set up at Singerly Volunteer Fire Co.’s station house, which is adjacent to EHS, she added.
The event gave youngsters and their parents an opportunity to see fire trucks and police vehicles on display, including a Humvee used by the CCSO.
But the big draw seemed to be trunk-or-treat, an event made possible, in part, by residents who volunteered to man their vehicles and supply the goodies that they gave to the youngsters. People manning booths also handed out candy.
Like the children who visited them, several of the volunteers wore costumes, including Cyrus Gibson, a 23-year-old North East resident who dressed like Jack Skellington, a character in Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” movie.
“I enjoy Halloween,” Gibson acknowledged, before adding, “But today is very important to keep our youth drug free. I am a citizen who is interested.”
Gibson’s girlfriend, Rachel Nagle, 24, also went with “Nightmare Before Christmas,” painting her face blue and making other modifications to transform herself into Sally, one of the movie’s characters.
In the adjacent parking space was Gibson’s mother, Sunshine Gibson, who, with straw shooting out her shirt sleeves and pants legs, was dressed like a scarecrow. She also wore a hat and some face paint.
“It’s good family fun, and it is a positive thing for the children,” Sunshine said.
Sunshine noted that she is friends with Creek and that she wanted to support her.
Several of the parents interviewed by the Cecil Whig applauded the trunk-or-treat and the way that it was held amid other festival events aimed at educating people about the perils of drug abuse.
“It’s safe and it’s fun,” said Elkton-area resident Christina Sulecki, as her 5-year-old daughter, Isabella — clad in a leopard costume — grabbed some candy at a vehicle trunk.
Isabella’s grandmother, Sharon May, also an Elkton-area resident, remarked, “This gives the kids something positive. They’re surrounded by a good message today.”