GREENFIELD — They started lining up 45 minutes early, empty buckets in hand and parents in tow.
Dozens of Disney princesses, ninjas and zombies hungry for candy were among the local children who turned out Monday evening for the annual Trick-or-Treat for Riley, conducted at Greenfield-Central High School.
At the ninth annual Halloween-themed event, hundreds of high school students dished out sweets by the handful to local trick-or-treaters who wandered through hallways swathed in fake spider webs and themed decorations. Families who attended were asked to contribute whatever they were willing to the cause, which benefited Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.
The event was organized by members of the high school’s student council, which called on other student groups and clubs to pitch in.
As hundreds of trick-or-treaters navigated their way through the school, they moved from classroom to classroom collecting candy from high school students who also were dressed in costume.
Students from Junior State of America, an organization that promotes student political activism, dressed up as U.S. presidents. Members of the high school’s drama department put their theatrical skills to work by assembling an extensive haunted house for participants to wander through.
Laura Berger, a Greenfield-Central English teacher who serves as a staff sponsor for the student council, said the event is designed to provide a family-friendly atmosphere for families in the community who want to get involved and make a difference.
“It’s a really positive program we have here, and it’s a place where parents can bring their kids and come someplace you know your kids are going to be safe,” Berger said.
The event brings in families from all over the county who range significantly in age, Berger said.
“You’ve got a handful of sixth-graders and a bunch of infants, too, so the costumes are always adorable,” she said, gesturing toward a toddler donning an inflatable superhero outfit.
Jessica Coffin, mother to three Greenfield-Central students, said she was thankful for the effort to provide Halloween festivities in a secure atmosphere.
“Especially with three girls, I’m always looking out for them,” said Coffin, whose daughters range in age from 6 to 11. “This is a great way to bring the community together to a place you know is going to be safe.”
Hannah Edwards, president of the high school’s student council, took charge of organizing the event this year.
She said the event served as a lighthearted way for older students to engage with young families.
“This is great way to make a small difference in the community, even if it’s just making a kid smile for a night,” Edwards said. “You never know who’s going to walk through those doors – it could be their first time in the high school – so being able to enrich their lives in even a tiny way is worth it.”
Missed Monday’s event? Plenty of other organizations across the county are holding events for trick-or-treaters this week.
Wilkinson Church of Christ, 7293 N. State Road 109: Fall Fling runs from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday. Information: wccin.org or 765-781-2585.
Sugar Creek Baptist Church, 3928 S. County Road 100W: A Harvest Fall Festival starts at 4 p.m. Saturday in the church shelter. Bring a lawn chair for the campfire and singing, as well as games, hot dog roast and hayrides. Organizers say there will be something for all ages, from children to older adults. If it rains, the party will move inside. Information: 317-614-4230 or www.sugarcreekbc.net.
Heather Hills Baptist Church, 1421 N. German Church Road, Cumberland: Trunk or Treat runs from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Information: heatherhills.org or 317-894-7474.
Bridge Church, 611 Vitality Drive, Fortville: Trunk or Treat runs from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday in the parking lot. Information: bridgechurchlive.org or 317-485-4403.
Faith Baptist Church, 323 S. Washington St., Morristown: Trunk or Treat runs from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday in the parking lot. Hot dogs, chips and drinks will be served. Games and candy also will be part of the event. Information: fbcmorristown.org or 765-763-7657.
Greenfield Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), 23 N. East St.: Candy, games and hot dogs will be available from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday. Information: greenfieldchristian.org or 317-462-6348.
Calvary Baptist Church, 1450 W. Main St., Greenfield: Trunk or Treat is set for 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday. Information: cbcgreenfield.org or 462-4586.
Fortville Nazarene Church, 701 S. Maple St.: Trunk or Treat runs from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday. It features a maze and several decorated vehicles passing out candy. Chili, soup, apple cider and hot chocolate will be available. Information: fortvillenazarene.org or 317-485-6443.
Northside Christian Church, 1304 Greenfield Drive: Harvest Fun Night runs from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday in the fellowship hall. Information: www.nccin.org or .
St. James Lutheran Church, 1741 S. State St.: Truth and Treat offers candy, games and prizes from 6 to 7 p.m. Saturday. Information: stjamesnalc.org or 317-462-7340.
Trinity Park United Methodist Church, 207 W. Park Ave.: Trunk or Treat is set for 6 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Hot dogs, hot chocolate, candy, games and more will be available. Information: trinitypark.net or 317-462-4303.
Green Township Fire Department: Trick-or-treating from 5 to 8 p.m. at State Roads 9 and 234 in Eden.
The Vineyard Community Church at Mt. Comfort, 1672 N. County Road 600W: Trunk or Treat runs from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday.
Have a free event to add to the list? Send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Trick-or-treating hours throughout Hancock County:
Greenfield: 5 to 8 p.m.
Fortville: 5 to 8 p.m.
McCordsville: 5 to 8 p.m.
New Palestine: 5 to 9 p.m.
County hours (for those outside city limits): 5 to 8 p.m.