A boy shrieks in terror, as a man with a deformed face comes walking toward him. He runs for his mother, seeking security and comfort. The man takes off his mask, and reassures the small child that every thing will be all right. What may have seemed like a monster was actually a volunteer at the Night-Time Trick or Treat event put on by the Martin Drive Neighborhood Association.
The neighborhood is nestled between the Miller Brewery and Washington Park, home to a diverse group of people who invest their time making the neighborhood a community. Trick-or-treating is just one activity that brings people together. Another popular meeting place is the Vliet Street Community Green Farmers Market.
Danielle Baker, 28, was one of hundreds of residents who came out to participate in the trick-or-treating.
“Everybody comes out with the costumes and gets to (scare) the kids,” Baker said. “It’s probably not fun for the kids, but it’s fun for me to see them scream and run away.”
This year, 44th Street between Vliet Street and Martin Drive was blocked off to cars.
Neighborhood residents decorate their houses for Halloween and dress up in costume to hand out candy.
“They won’t have to worry about where they’re going to trick or treat,” Baker said. “I believe it’s a fun event for the kids, just for them to get out and have something to do and enjoy.”
Pat Mueller, neighborhood coordinator of the Martin Drive Neighborhood Association, said that the event allows neighbors to work as a team.
“It has really made the neighborhood come together even more,” Mueller said. “Between all the people who register, all the people who are (trick or treating) homes, all the people who volunteer to help one way or another, it practically involves the whole neighborhood.”
Raymond Duncan, coordinator of the Trick or Treat event, said activities such as this create “positives” that combat challenges in the neighborhood.
“Neighbors were working on problems like bad crime situations,” Duncan said. “Then they said, ‘Hey, we’ve got to work on positive events that bring the community together.’”
“Crime is dramatically lower, problems are way less, and these events are fun,” he continued. “I also know neighbors on every block now.”
The Vliet Street Community Green Farmers Market also draws many residents. Vendors bring fresh vegetables and fruits grown from their own gardens to local customers.
“All of the farmers are from right around here, as well as the vendors,” Mueller noted.
Paul Priester, a resident of the Martin Drive neighborhood, got involved with the farmer’s market through his church.
“We had come (to the market) in the past, and thought it was a nice way to connect to the community,” Priester said.