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Where Safety Meets Fun: Safe and Green Halloween!

Authors: Marisela Castro, Project Coordinator; Lucas Cook, Project Coordinator; Janice Garcia, Project Coordinator

By the Numbers:

  • Over 600 participants
  • Over 200 SJSU Engaged Students
  • Over 30 Community Organizations & Local Government Departments
  • 95% of participants who reported in a follow up survey indicated they learned to incorporate environmentally sustainable practices into their daily lives
  • 96% of participants indicated they increased awareness of key environmental goals: recycling, reducing, reusing, water and energy conservation
  • 96% of participants surveyed reported an increase in knowledge of healthy foods from attending the event
  • 98% program satisfaction
  • 33 participants in the Costume Parade

On October 26th, CommUniverCity hosted their 12th annual Safe & Green Halloween event with the central theme of the Disney Pixar movie Coco. After months of meeting with the planning committee, consisting of individuals who are a part of the McKinley-Bonita Neighborhood Association, Safe & Green Halloween staff, volunteers, and community members painted the back of McKinley Elementary School with festive and colorful paper, corn stalks, decorated pumpkins, and a stage filled with paper marigolds. Various tables ranging from community organizations to local city departments outlined the blacktop along with different interactive stations including face painting, pumpkin decoration, along with a new addition this year, the  San Jose Public Library Maker[Space]Ship Bus, where community members had an opportunity to experience making Halloween decorations out of recycled materials.

Along with meeting with the planning committee and SJSU students from Dr. Bobbi Makani’s BUS 16 course-Leadership and Innovation, we were able to generate a creative, interactive series of activities surrounding topics of sustainability including healthy eating, water conservation, recycling and sorting, and how to make more sustainable choices in your everyday life. In addition, about 10 groups from this class helped with putting together different Safe & Green costumes made out of materials like newspaper, toilet paper, cardboard, foil, and much more.

Along with all the community-based involvement, The Environmental Resource Center (ERC) from SJSU helped students from the CORAL after school programs at Olinder and McKinley Elementary throughout the course of 3 months.  Five ERC students met with Olinder and McKinley students bi-weekly to help in the brainstorming and the creation of costumes made out of upcycled materials. Throughout this process, ERC students educated Olinder and McKinley students about the different materials that can easily be recycled to make a costume, how to properly recycle, and how to eliminate single-use products by reusing materials in other contexts. One of the central goals of Safe & Green Halloween is to not only bring the community together to learn more about Halloween safety, but to have community members, residents, and students learn about the different ways that they can conduct a more sustainable and healthier lifestyle.


The costume parade is always the highlight of Safe & Green Halloween and this year we had a total of 33 community members with amazing costumes participate! These costumes included a sea turtle, a vending machine, a snow princess, a phoenix, a rainbow fish, and a Lego Batman. Community Director Imelda Rodriguez and special guest Q from the San Jose Earthquakes, presented each winner with their prize. The top 5 winners were Juan Diaz from McKinley with a turtle costume who won $100, Oliver Gracia with his mother in a Jack in the Box costume who won $75, Kylie Calah from Olinder with a snow princess costume who won $50, Jacob Guadarrama from McKinley with a Batman lego costume who won $40, and Emma Perez from Olinder with an astronaut costume who won $30.


Every year, participants take the Litter Pledge in order to encourage children to recycle, conserve, and take care of the local environment. This year, Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese and his team of representatives led the Litter Pledge to an excited group of students promising to never litter, always pick up trash, lead a sustainable lifestyle and most importantly, to take care of the environment.

Throughout the event, over 30 tablers from the community and City of San Jose interacted with community members, families, and children surrounding topics of sustainability while also promoting their resources. These departments and organizations included the Department of Environmental Services, Police Department, the San Jose Public Library, PACT, McKinley Youth Center, San Jose Earthquakes representatives, Roosevelt Community Center, Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful, LGBTQ Youth Space, and the City of San Jose Housing Department. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to email We hope to see you next year!

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