Author: Andrea Gonzalez
On October 23, 2015 in the McKinley/Bonita neighborhood of downtown San Jose, CommUniverCity hosted the 9th annual Safe & Green Halloween community fair.
The playground at McKinley Elementary was lined with tables featuring organizations such as the SJSU Health Science Department, the Environmental Resource Center, County Supervisor Cindy Chavez, McKinley Teen Center, and dozens of other groups that align with safety and/or sustainability. City of San Jose police officers brought their squad cars, and even enlisted a police helicopter to circle around the fair – huge hit with both the children and the parents! The fair presents a fantastic opportunity for kids to interact with the people who are keeping their city clean and safe.
The inspiration for Safe & Green emerged from a a neighborhood shooting which left a child injured in the crossfire. This horrific incident had one silver lining: it inspired the neighborhood association to create a safe space where children could gather, pick up gently used donated Halloween costumes, and learn about how to stay safe on this very busy night. The community managed to turn an unfortunate occurrence into a positive neighborhood event: Safe & Green Halloween was born!
While safety is still the primary focus for the event, the theme has expanded to include the green aspect of the holiday. In order to promote this behavior, CommUniverCity launched the upcycled costume contest where children are given prizes for creating Halloween costumes made entirely of recycled materials.
Safe & Green Halloween annually draws in between 400-600 school age children and families, and truly embodies the partnership model on which CommUniverCity was founded. San Jose State students are very involved in every aspect of the fair, from helping hang the welcome signs to educating young children on the benefits of eating healthy. The Community is a major force behind the yearly planning and execution of the Safe & Green Halloween fair. And lastly, the City of San Jose gives the community a backstage pass to its public by works by showcasing police cars and recycling trucks.
Kids and parents alike loved attending the event. In an exit survey administered at the fair, one child reported that “recycling can help the environment a lot by reducing contamination,” while another learned to “recycle that which you think is trash.” One parent felt that the best part of Safe & Green was the opportunity to learn and bond with her daughter.
As always, the costume competition was immensely popular. This year parents expressed a desire to compete alongside their children in the costume competition! The new catwalk gave the event a very professional touch – something CommUniverCity will absolutely bring back next year!
If you are interested in participating in 2016’s Safe & Green Halloween through hosting a table, sponsorship, volunteering or coming to the fair please contact CommUniverCity at www.cucsj.org. We look forward to seeing you at next year’s Safe & Green Halloween!