Children hopped from booth to booth, parents chatted among each other at picnic tables and the faint smell of corn tortillas lingered in the air at the annual Grace Miller Elementary School Fall Festival Oct. 25.
As the vice president of philanthropy for the College Panhellenic Association, it was my second year volunteering and my first year being a part of the coordinating committee that arranges for the University’s Greek life to volunteer at the event.
“Mark Mollet from Grace Miller e-mailed me and wanted the Greeks to volunteer again because it was such a success last year,” Barbara Mulligan, director of student life, said.
The festival had food and game booths, rides, a video game truck, crafts and a food truck. Each classroom at the school was assigned a booth for the event.
Booths ranged from carnival games, such as tossing a ping pong ball into a bowl to win a fish, to food booths that sold candy apples and pizza.
The event was the main fundraiser for the year, Mark Mollet, the Fall Festival coordinator, said.
His goal was to raise enough money at the festival, so students wouldn’t have to pay for their field trips and the school wouldn’t have to pay for new equipment.
Instead of using cash at the booths, the festival used a ticket system. Each ticket was worth 50 cents and was purchased at the ticket booth located near the entrance of the festival and were able to be purchased all night.
The vendors either donated a portion of their proceeds to the school or charged a flat rate and allowed the school to keep the profits.
The festival booths were decorated in the spirit of Halloween. Many booths were adorned with black, orange and white streamers and posters, advertising their games or the various types if food available.
Children showed up decked out and ready for Halloween dressed up in their costumes and some even entered the costume contest.
The contest was separated into categories, such as fairest of them all, most creative, funniest and serious. The winners included the Queen of Hearts, Deadmau5, a hotdog and Medusa.
More than 100 Greeks volunteered for the event and resulted in an overflow of support.
When we arrived at the elementary school, Mollet assigned each of us to volunteer at a booth. There were so many volunteers that I was moved to three different booths.
Looking around, I noticed there were at least twice as many people and three times the number of Greek volunteers in attendance.
“I didn’t expect it to be this big. The booths are simple, but there’s a lot of people.” said Mia Smith, sophomore psychology major and Greek volunteer.
Parents were so at ease in the comfortable atmosphere the festival put on, they allowed their children to roam freely.
“It’s a safe community event,” said Sandra Rosales, a festival attendee and La Verne resident. “I feel at ease here, if something were to happen the police and fire department are here to handle it.”
Children ran from booth to booth picking out their favorite games and activities only to run back to their parents to beg for tickets.
“This event is a great way to bring the community together and celebrate Halloween positively,” said Evelyn Bobbitt, a senior biology major and Greek volunteer.
Before I left, a few volunteers and I danced with some of the children. I was teaching a little girl how to line dance. She was smiling and laughing and it was in that moment that I thought to myself, “I’m happy I volunteered at this event.”
“This event is a great way for the Greeks to give back to the community and volunteer. Events like these allow them to break the stereotypes tied to Greek life.” Mulligan said.
The festival raised roughly $13,000 but the official numbers will not be known until they deduct the portion paying off their vendors.
What is certain is that the organizers have surpassed last year’s $7,500 total by a long shot.
Liz Ortiz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.