Burgwald Eye Center's Trunk or Treat pulls Mahomet together

With Main Street's businesses decked out in Halloween hoopla in celebration of Burgwald Eye Center's fourth annual Trunk or Treat last Friday, it's easy to see why Mike and Kayla Smith decided to plant their family roots in Mahomet.

"We moved from (Oxford) Ohio two years ago," Mike Smith said. "Our two goals in moving here were to get a very good school system and a sense of community"

"We certainly found both in Mahomet," he said.

The couple's children, twins Elliott and Megan, 10, came dressed as a police officer and Wonder Woman.

"I think events like this are imperative to a small town," Kayla added.

Also new in town was Judy Roberts of Gifford, who decided to visit Mahomet for the very first time last Friday as a way to have good old-fashioned fun with her grandchildren.

"It's such a great town," she said. "I just love the comradery and the fun stuff they do for everybody in the community."

Her favorite part?

Spending time with her grandchildren: Brock Schlittler, 11, who came dressed as a panda; Jillian Schlittler, 10, a unicorn; Adelynn Breeden, 2, as Goldilocks; and Hudson Breedon, 4 months, as baby bear.

"Their favorite part is definitely the candy," Roberts said. "But she's (Adelynn) too busy looking at all of the trunks that she forgets all about the candy, and Hudson really could care less," she joked. "But it's fun."

James and Samantha McCauley decided to dress in a family Incredibles-theme with daughter Lily, 5, and son Cooper, 1.

"We've done a family costume every year, and she's (Lily) been picking the past few years," Samantha McCauley said. "We figured we only have a couple of more years before she wants to do her own thing."

The highlight?

"The candy," Samantha McCauley said. "But they also get very excited seeing other characters they recognize."

Samantha McCauley said Trunk or Treat is a great way to build community and bring others who may not typically bump elbows together for a night of fun.

"You get to see other people from town and meet people that you maybe just briefly met," she said.

Not only were community members buzzing about the event, but businesses and public entities were as well.

Fisher National Bank of Mahomet's Jason Enos and Roni Ruff were excited to greet community members in their Harry-Potter-themed trunk.

Ruff credited Ryan Heiser, senior vice president of the Mahomet branch, for generating the concept. Heiser suggested the theme after using it for one of his previous conferences.

The Mahomet bankers are by no means new to downtown's annual Halloween celebration. Each year, they enjoy seeing Trunk or Treat continue to grow.

"It's not just Mahomet," Enos said of the event's attendees. "Kids come from Monticello, Urbana, Fisher, Rantoul, Gifford — they come from all over."

"It shows that the community cares," Ruff added. "They can be brought together to do anything, especially for the kids."

The co-workers enjoyed seeing just how creative the businesses got with their trunk displays and costumes.

"I think the Batman costumes (Kurtz Counseling) are awesome," Enos said. "I've got to give it to them."

"I think the Mystery Machine (Matt Difanis of RE/MAX Realty) is pretty cool down there," Ruff added.

For Mike Metzler, chief of police in Mahomet, the best part of the evening is handing out candy to the youngsters and interacting with the community.

"It's kind of fun to get out here and see all of the kids," he said.

Metzler also took delight in the sheer number of kids dressed as police officers throughout the evening.

"This is a family-oriented town so these kinds of events are always good," he added. "I think it's good anytime we get the businesses and the other entities out there and they get to meet the families."

Mahomet Christian Church's Dixie Schoonover was dressed as Dorothy from the "Wizard of Oz," along with other fellow parishioners who came as the remaining cast of characters. Last year, the church participated as "Alice in Wonderland."

"Last year, I was the Queen of Hearts, and we had some Alices that were dressed up and they wanted their picture taken with me and that was so much fun," Schoonover said. "The kids are so cute, and they're really into it."

Schoonover said she delights in the businesses getting into the Halloween spirit to greet the community and show off downtown Mahomet.

"It's great comradery to come together as a community," she said. "So many businesses participate, and it's really wonderful."

Images Hair Design's crew were decked out as the incredible hairstylists — a play on Disney's "The Incredibles."

"It's a popular movie we knew the kids would recognize, and it's a good way to promote our salon," owner Katie Gilbert said.

But perhaps their favorite part of the evening were the interactions with Mahomet's youngest community members.

"I think it's really cute when the kids are dressed as an Incredible and they come up and see us and they're like, 'Wow! That's me!'" stylist Cary Isaac said. "Some even wanted to get their pictures taken, too."

Friday was the salon's third time participating in Trunk or Treat, and Gilbert and Isaac said the crew keeps coming back year after year, given their pure enjoyment of interacting with the community.

"It pulls everybody together for one evening and gets families involved — that's huge," Isaac said.

Felicia Hughes, business manager of Burgwald Eye Center, said Trunk or Treat began when the business saw a need to do a Halloween event for the community.

"We tossed around the idea and we kicked it off and here we are going strong," she said.

The event continues to gain popularity with approximately 1,000 in attendance this year to check out 37 trunks.

The eye center also made sure to hop in the fun and decked out its trunk display with a Joker theme with none other than Dr. Erik Burgwald himself portraying the Joker. Dr. Kelly Sanders was Robin, employee Mindy Leevey was Catwoman and Hughes was Harley Quinn.

The event takes two to three months to prepare, and Hughes said she always has businesses looking forward to the event, asking for the official date as early as September.

Hughes views the event as a win-win both for businesses and the community.

"People can see new businesses that come to town, businesses can get their name out there and get their face out there to people who maybe wouldn't come out any other time," she said.

"I think it brings everybody out together," Hughes added. "It's something fun to do."

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