By LINDA CHION KENNEY
Thousands of children are expected to attend this year’s Trick or Treat Street at Riverview High School, an annual event presented by the Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation.
Now in its 31st year, the event is heralded by chamber officials as its largest of the year and a great way to connect residents to the businesses and nonprofits that have built a base in southeastern Hillsborough County.
“We’re just the organizers,” said Tanya Doran, executive director of the 700-member Riverview chamber. “It’s the folks who come out here bringing their tents and tables and candy that make the event happen.”
Now in its third location — after earlier set-ups at the Save a Lot parking lot in Riverview and at YMCA Camp Christina — the event for years has been presented at Riverview High, 11311 Boyette Road. This year’s event is scheduled for Sat., Oct. 26, from 2 to 6 p.m., rain or shine.
Then, like now, Trick-or-Treat Street (TOTS) is driven to ensure a safe place for kids to enjoy the top candy holiday. The chamber charges its members $45 to secure a booth space, Doran said, knowing in turn they will spend “several hundred dollars, if not more,” on treats to distribute to an expected 4,000 kids.
Non-members can sign up for a minimum cost of $294, which includes a one-year base membership. A sign-up form is available online for volunteers to select shift times and duties (visit https://bit.ly/2Vbjow4).
Admission to Trick-or-Treat Street (TOTS) is free; a $5 donation per carload is requested for parking. To support their respective high school clubs, Riverview students will offer games and activities for a small fee.
The Tampa law firm Christopher Ligori & Associates has stepped up to sponsor the Kid’s Zone filled with inflatables. In years past there was a $5 cost to enter the zone; this year, free wristbands for unlimited play, while supplies last, will be available at Christopher Ligori’s trick-or-treat booth.
Also on tap, is a kid’s costume contest with a $5 registration fee and judging in four age categories (0-3, 4-7, 8-11, and 12-15). The Learning Experience Academy of Early Education, newly opened in Rivercrest, will sponsor the contest.
Four Paws Veterinary Hospital requests a $10 donation for the dog costume contest it sponsors, with pets of all sizes welcome to participate. Proceeds benefit Critter Adoption and Rescue Effort (CARE).
Chamber officials recommend attendees bring their “monster appetites.” Food vendors include C&J Specialty, featuring fun, traditional fair food; Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, in business in Brandon and set to open in Riverview; Papa John’s pizza in Riverview; Kona Ice in Brandon; and Willie Jewell’s Old School Bar-B-Q on Big Bend Road.
Organizers work hard to make sure lines run smoothly throughout TOTS as guests visit decorated booths, manned by costumed representatives, as well as a blood mobile on site to draw donations.
The chamber committee, chaired by James Pulkowski, a certified public accountant, is busy tending to the event’s logistics in preparation for TOTs. Co-chairs are Michael Broussard of Flying Locksmiths and Michelle Mosher of Southshore Insurance Professionals. Mosher is this year’s chamber president.
“It’s kind of amazing to see how many kids and parents turn out for this event,” said Broussard, a member of the Rotary Club of FishHawk-Riverview. “It’s kind of crazy. You would never think something like this would take off and become an event as big as it is.”
In effect, TOTS is a visual display of all that Riverview and its environs have to offer. “It’s Riverview hometown, a place where you can come and meet your neighbors,” Doran said. “Your church might be participating; your favorite nonprofit might be out there as well.”
Moreover, “It’s local businesses giving back to the community,” she added. “It’s great branding for them to say, ‘Hey, I’m in this community, I’m supporting this community.’ People talk about ‘shop local,’ this is a great place to see who your local businesses are.”
For more information, call the chamber at 813-234-5944 or visit riverviewchamber.com.