Dinosaurs, princesses, superheroes and devils were seen running around University of Richmond’s Stern Plaza Sunday. Local children came dressed up in Halloween costumes to Trick or Treat Street, UR’s annual Halloween fair for families. This year marked the event’s 20th anniversary.
UR student groups -- 49 to be exact -- registered to run Halloween-themed activities for the children. There was also a petting zoo, a bouncy house, a haystack maze and food trucks, among other attractions.
Members of TOTS, a student-run group on campus, organized the event, which ran from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Vittoria Tripp, who works in the Center for Student Involvement, has served as the TOTS adviser for five years now. She said this year's event had been one of the best ones yet.
“I love seeing all of the students coming together for a common cause,” she said. “That’s what CSI does -- helps students find their place and brings them together. I love to see the students interacting with the kids and members of the community.”
Student governments, sports clubs, all Greek life organizations and various other groups, including women’s basketball and the Speech Center, participated this year.
Members of UR’s pre-health fraternity, DEM, ran the pumpkin-painting station. DEM member Angel Nguyen said that at the beginning of the day, they had had 450 pumpkins. Within two hours, all the pumpkins had been painted.
“It was so amazing to see the look on the kids’ faces having so much fun doing these activities,” Nguyen said. “One of our members dressed up as Elsa from 'Frozen' and the kids loved it.”
All recommended donations for the event went to the Ronald McDonald House. This year, the event raised $3,702 in donations, an 83 percent increase from last year, Tripp said.
To celebrate the event’s 20th anniversary, TOTS President Sadie Roulston rented out a huge red car attraction for the event.
“We had some leftover money in the budget and I thought, ‘We need something really special and big,’” Roulston said.
Alison Keller, director of the Center for Student Involvement, has seen the evolution of TOTS over the years. She helped pioneer the event and served as TOTS’ adviser until Tripp took over the role five years ago.
Keller has attended TOTS every year and continues to direct the construction of the haystack maze, which consists of 200 bales of straw.
“I’m very proud of the fact that I was part of bringing this event to campus,” Keller said. “It has evolved into a phenomenal community event and campus tradition.”
In its early days, TOTS was a Greek life event that took place on Old Fraternity Row. Fraternities paired up with sororities to hold various activities in the lodges for the local children.
UR alumna and Greek life member Sarah Tunner helped plan the first TOTS on campus. Tunner, who now lives in Richmond with her family, attended the event Sunday with her youngest daughter, Catherine. This was the first year she has attended TOTS since being a student at UR.
“Being there definitely brought back memories of being on campus,” Tunner said. “The petting zoo, the bouncy houses, the car ride -- none of those was there before. It shows how much the event has grown.”
The TOTS student organization consists of seven executive members who collaborate to plan the event. Beginning at the start of the school term, members met once a week and in the few weeks leading up to the event, twice a week. Roulston and TOTS Vice President David Turley had additional meetings with Tripp.
Some UR professors attended the event with their families. Professor Laura Knouse, who teaches in the psychology department, dressed up as a painting, and her son, Liam, was the American painter Bob Ross.
“The event was such a nice way to welcome the community onto campus,” Knouse said. “I just felt really grateful to be a part of a wonderful and vibrant community.”
Contact contributor Alice Millerchip at firstname.lastname@example.org.