Community Halloween event highlights teal pumpkins

ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — The traditional colors of Halloween are black and orange, but Bellaire at Stone Port is hosting a "Spooktacular" event on October 18, and they are adding teal to the mix.

Photo: Food Allergy Research & Education/MGN

Courtney Lafkin-Coffman is the business office manager at Bellaire at Stone Port, and as they began planning this event, she wanted to make sure everyone was able to take part in the fun. Her daughter, Ava, has food allergies, so the Coffman family began participating in the TEAL Pumpkin Project because of that.

"It can be frustrating as a parent to watch your kid go trick-or-treating, knowing they can't eat any of the candy," said Lafkin-Coffman.

The Teal Pumpkin Project was started in 2014 by the nonprofit group Food, Allergy, Research and Education (FARE). The idea behind it is that homes who are giving out non-food products for kids with allergies leave a teal pumpkin outside of their homes so families know it is a safe place to let their children who have dietary needs stop when trick-or-treating.

The goal is to provide a fun and safe experience for kids suffering from food allergies. Teal is the color of allergy awareness, so if a teal pumpkin is placed at someone's door, then trick-or-treaters know it is allergy friendly.

"It's because it's safe for me to go trick-or-treating," said Ava.

The "Spooktacular" event will have a Teal Pumpkin table with treats for kids and adults who have allergies. There will be trick-or-treating with candy as well.

"As a community, we want to make sure that everyone realizes that we want to get food allergy awareness out there. Once they see that teal pumpkin, they know they can trick-or-treat safely," said Lafkin-Coffman.

The event is for kids and adults to enjoy. There will be "Hocus Pocus" playing in the theater, trick-or-treating throughout the building, finger food and drinks, and bingo for adults.

"We want everybody to be included. You never want to exclude the child, we want to exclude the food if we can," said Lafkin-Coffman.

The event is from 4-7 p.m. Those planning on attending should call to RSVP at 540-246-0888. The link to the event page on Facebook is here.

Some ideas of non-food items to hand out for Halloween are:

-glow sticks
-finger puppets
-stencils
-stickers
-spider rings
-playing cards
-bubbles
-pinwheels
-whistles
-silly glasses
-mini notepads
-pencils
-vampire fangs

You can take part in the Teal Pumpkin Project by doing the following:

1. Provide allergen-friendly treats or non-food treats for trick-or-treaters.
2. Place a teal pumpkin in front of your home to let passersby know you have treats available.
3. Display a free printable sign or poster available through FARE's website to explain the meaning of your teal pumpkin.
4. You can make a donation to support the Teal Pumpkin Project and they'll send you a free gift.

There is also an interactive map which shows all locations in the world where houses with teal pumpkins can be found. According to that map, there are already locations in Harrisonburg, Staunton, McGaheysville, and Woodstock planning to participate in the project.