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In SCC: An event shows how things could be

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image A child dressed as Scooby Doo trick-or-treats at the Sun City Center United Methodist Church Fun Fest on Halloween evening. An estimated 2,500 children turned out for the event. Photo Mitch Traphagen

More than 200 seniors were doing something nice for a bunch of children they don’t even know.

By Mitch Traphagen

If there were anything resembling Utopia among the realities of human transgression, sin, and frailty, it probably would look much like what took place outside of the Sun City Center United Methodist Church on Halloween evening. Huge numbers of children and young people were there having a great time with older people. It would seem that’s just how the world should work — both groups have so much to share with the other.

Cars and golf carts lined up, with license plates from Florida, Illinois and other states, and on the bumpers were stickers advocating both Obama and Romney. There was no discord; people came here simply to give children a wonderful and magical day. The cars were lined up to allow the children to go door to door — or rather, trunk to trunk — to trick-or-treat in a safe and fun environment. It was successful beyond anything words can describe. Free hotdogs and nachos, lots of games with older people cheering on the children, and, as the sun set, a retiree helped a little girl with butterfly wings into an inflatable bounce house, resulting in the unrestrained joy of a child and the lightened soul of a senior. An older woman cheered from the heart as a child dressed as a Boy Scout pitched a rubber ball to knock down a stack of cans.

More than 200 seniors were doing something nice for a bunch of children they don’t even know (and in saying “a bunch of kids” I mean thousands, literally thousands of children). In the process, they did something nice for the parents of those children. And they most assuredly did something nice for anyone there to witness it. There is little doubt that almost everyone left that scene feeling energized and hopeful.

“This is fun,” one retiree said with a smile as a small fairy tale princess looked shyly up at the man and opened her bag to receive the candy he purchased for her. For each of the retirees, it was an expensive proposition. At least 2,500 children made their way down the row of parked cars, played the games that ended with children reaching their small hands into buckets of candy for treats, or happily munched on nachos and hotdogs served up by people with no vested interest beyond wanting to give children the unrequited gift of a wonderful Halloween. It was a gift that in many cases the parents simply could not afford to provide. Gas for the car or dollars for the electric bill would take priority over candy and, in some cases, even costumes.

The hundreds of volunteers who made it happen were from all faiths and backgrounds. Judy Kramer, a columnist for The Sun newspaper, and her husband Oscar were volunteers at the event and said that all evening, people were commenting on how this is how the world should work, with people coming together and joyously, selflessly bringing happiness to others, and in the process unintentionally bringing happiness to themselves. The people of Sun City Center have so much to offer children, especially those who may need all the help they can get. And, in turn, the children have so much to offer the seniors. They offer the unlimited promise of life from brand-new eyes, energy and gratitude with every shy “thank you” as a candy bar or lollipop landed in a bag held by tiny hands. They offer shared laughter and cheers as a tossed plastic ring landed on a small, inflatable spider earning a treat and a smile, or the joy of success when the third or fourth putt managed to get the golf ball through the hole on the two-foot long putting green of the “Pumpkin Golf” game.

According to Linda Whitt, one of the organizers of the event, the purpose was to provide a safe and fun environment for the children of South Hillsborough. More than 2,500 kids attended, with 2,000 hotdogs, 2,500 nachos with cheese, 500 sno-cones and 2,500 bags of popcorn adding to the fun. Jumbo the Clown was there, along with a handful of bounce houses and games designed by the volunteers. It was made possible by contributions from McDonald’s and Winn Dixie, along with generous contributions from the generous hearts of the many volunteers. The Sun City Center Emergency Squad, the SCC Security Patrol, and the Radio Club of SCC provided safety and traffic control services.

Music from the Oasis Praise Team led by Jeff Jordon permeated the autumn air, and popcorn and sno-cones that colored young tongues red or blue were passed out as children waited for games and treats. The seniors gave from their hearts, but they got something in return. The shy “thank you’s” filled back whatever their hearts gave and then some. Twenty-five hundred children left happy that evening. That, too, is how the world should work. On Halloween night in Sun City Center, it did.

110812 SCC UMC Fun Fest - Images by Mitch Traphagen

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