The Isla Vista Recreation & Park District and campus-based nonprofit La Escuelita hosted Safe Halloween this past Saturday, a free event for the children in I.V. held at the Children’s Park on Picasso Rd.
The event included activities organized by various members of Greek life and booths decorated with festive items such as pumpkins, bats, ghosts, witches, confetti, paint, spider webs and candy. Activities at the event included a football toss, toilet paper toss, potato sack races, ring toss, fish pong, face painting, mini-golf and soccer bowling.
IVRPD Recreation Coordinator Annie Aziz said the help of on-campus organizations made setting up this year’s event much easier than years past.
“In the past, it was a lot harder because it was just I.V. Parks and Rec,” Aziz said. “I have much more support nowadays and it makes the event more successful and efficient. The on-campus organizations know how to organize, prepare and carry on events like this.”
La Escuelita co-chair and third-year mechanical engineering major Lucia Arias said working Safe Halloween is a gratifying experience that causes participating children to “light up with joy.”
“Many UCSB orgs participate and it is a heartwarming experience,” Arias said. “The kids appreciate it because it’s for them and they feel special since it’s a day catered to their fun for this holiday. They mostly appreciate how college students are around because they look up to us.”
Lucia also said she hopes students keep other residents of I.V. — such as children — in mind when deciding how to handle this coming Halloween.
“We as students do not really appreciate the space that we have in I.V.,” Arias said. “We can openly show families and residents that we are not here just to party. We want to acknowledge them through events like this.”
Andrea Angulo, co-chair of La Escuelita and third-year Spanish and sociology major said Safe Halloween exemplifies a way in which students and other I.V. residents can come together in a safe, healthy and festive setting.
“It’s a Safe Halloween that provides unity between UCSB, families and the children of Isla Vista to provide a safe space to Isla Vista,” Angulo said.
Angulo also said children in I.V. do not get the chance to fully enjoy Halloween in their neighborhood because students are participating in “nightly parties inside of [their] community.”
“From a kid’s perspective, it’s unfortunate to leave their community during Halloween day to have a good time. Isla Vista is simply not a safe place for children during this time period, especially during nighttime,” Angulo said. “I personally would not enjoy it if I were a kid and had to go trick-or-treating at a foreign neighborhood.”
Fifth-grade student at Isla Vista Elementary School David Zamora said he has been coming to the event for the last few years and now recognizes some of the college students working at the booths.
“I have been to this event since I was in third grade. I like the booths, the candy and the Halloween music they play,” Zamora said. “My friends come and I see familiar college students that I admire.”
A mother of four, Isla Vista resident Janice Garcia said the presence of students throughout the day makes her feel better about the event.
“I think it’s a beautiful event because kids come during the day and there are fun games and candy. The fact that university students and parents are present during the day assures me that everything will be fine,” Garcia said. “I have lived in Isla Vista for 14 years and Halloween night can get ugly and sketchy. This is why I do not allow my children to be out during this time.”
Third-year psychology major and Sigma Chi Omega president Jason Ouyang said Safe Halloween promotes consideration for children and other I.V. community members and that students should take heed of the event’s efforts.
“It’s unfair that kids can’t have a safe time during Halloween, and it might be selfish on part of college students since we are having constant parties and drinking which is not good,” Ouyang said. “I appreciate everything that these orgs are doing. I don’t know how they organize it, but they do it well. Each booth is decorative and I support this event.”