SOUTH COUNTY — An annual Halloween tradition dating back 34 years in south Monterey County could be in jeopardy this year unless donations start picking up.
More than 2,000 residents attend the Harvest Night Festival each year at the South County YMCA in Soledad. The Halloween event provides a safe alternative to trick-or-treating for children and their families and features carnival-style games, candy, face painting, bounce houses and giveaways.
The free event relies on donations from the community to help with the supplies and prizes, but according to Harvest Night Committee Member Lisa Smith, support has been lacking this year.
“This event relies on generous donors, and unfortunately, this year support is down,” Smith said.
Each year the committee needs to fill multiple 18-gallon buckets — 13 to be exact — with candy to pass out to the young trick-or-treaters. Only three buckets have been filled so far, Smith said.
“In addition, last year they had toy donations and did giveaways,” she added. “This year there have been no donations.”
The committee is primarily looking for bags of individually wrapped candy to be donated as well as new toys or gift cards that can be used for giveaways. Donations can be dropped off at Liberty Chapel Community Church, 274 Kidder St., in Soledad during weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 831-678-2885 for more information.
“The event will go on,” Smith assured. “Whatever candy we do have would be used and then once it’s gone, we just wouldn’t be able to hand out candy anymore. … Obviously, the kids come for the candy and the fun, and over 2,000 patrons attend each year as a safe alternative to trick-or-treating.”
Once again Liberty Chapel Community Church, South County YMCA, City of Soledad, local businesses and community members have partnered together to host the annual Harvest Night Festival. This year’s event is set for Thursday, Oct. 31, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the local YMCA, 560 Walker Drive, in Soledad.
Costumes are not required at the festival, which is free to attend for families with children of all ages.