November 2, 2020

Families enjoy drive-through trunk-or-treat event at UC Davis MIND Institute

The socially distanced Fall Festival offered a safe alternative during the coronavirus pandemic


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About 100 Sacramento-area families stopped by a unique, safe, drive-through trunk-or-treat event at the UC Davis MIND Institute Friday (Oct. 30) evening. The event was socially distanced, and families remained in their vehicles as they drove through the MIND Institute parking lot on the UC Davis Health campus, collecting candy or small toys through their car windows. 

Car trunks were decorated with spider webs, ghosts and more, courtesy of the NorCal Challengers auto enthusiasts, a group that supports many MIND Institute events. Staff members and volunteers in festive costumes handed out candy while wearing masks, face shields and gloves. Volunteers and staff were also screened for COVID-19 symptoms.

“We were thrilled to be able to offer a safe trunk-or-treat option for patients and the public this year,” said Erin Roseborough, a child life specialist who created the Fall Festival several years ago.


MIND Institute staff and volunteers dressed in festive costumes to hand out treats.

Public health officials, including those at UC Davis Health, had urged people to consider alternatives to traditional trick-or-treating this year, due to COVID-19.

The UC Davis MIND Institute is a collaborative international research center, committed to the awareness, understanding, prevention and treatment of the challenges associated with neurodevelopmental disabilities. This free event was open to the public as well as MIND Institute patients.

The Fall Festival is one of several annual Family Time at the MIND events organized by the child life team at the MIND Institute.

“These events are magical, because they remove the normative guidelines about what social events should look like,” said Veronica Tuss, a child life specialist who helped organize the Fall Festival. “No one attending our events ever needs to explain themselves or their child’s behavior or needs. They can just be and have fun, whatever that looks like for them uniquely.”