Hundreds Of Cars Line Up For Drive Thru Trunk Or Treat At Bartow First Baptist
by James Coulter
What do the Addams Family, Paw Patrol, and Cookie Monster all have in common? They’re characters that children were able to meet and greet during the inagural drive-thru trunk or treat at First Baptist Church of Bartow.
Hundreds of cars line up along the street in front of the church for a chance to drive through the church parking lot and pass by the dozen or so cars decorated in festive decorations.
As children rode by dressed in their own Halloween costumes, they could accept the free candy provided by other costume characters at the decorated vehicles in the parking lot, with costumes and decorations based on various properties including Sesame Street and Paw Patrol.
The event lasted from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Within the first hour, nearly 71 vehicles pulled through the trunk or treat drive thru, with cars lined up along the block nearly 40 minutes before the event, explained pastor Matt McCraw.
First Baptist Church of Bartow initially was not planning a Halloween event this year. However, Pastor McCraw wanted to offer something for the children in the local community to do during Halloween, especially with many local Halloween events cancelled.
Their event was mostly promoted through their Facebook page. More than 1,100 people had liked their Facebook event page, Pastor McCraw said.
“It is an opportunity to love families,” he said. “Our mission statement is to love others. And in the midst of the pandemic, we can do that in a safe way. We are still determined to love families.”
Richard Jones, youth pastor, loved being able to reach out to the children that evening. Most of the children attending that evening were from their church, and many of them were those who had not been at the church for some time due to COVID-19.
“It is a lot more cars than I anticipated,” Jones said. “I feel so much joy, to do something for Halloween during this pandemic. I am just glad we could partner with the community to have something fun.”
Chuck Butler is a congregation member who has been attending the church for nearly two years. Initally, he had visited several churches to find the right one for him. He decided to stary with First Baptist Church of Bartow because of the dedication of the pastor, the teaching, and the fellowship.
Butler helped direct traffic that evening, directing cars to pull up into the parking lot. He loved being able to see so many people he had not been able to see lately due to the pandemic. He especially appreciated helping the church do something for the local children for Halloween.
“I think it is bigger than what we have expected,” he said. “I think we are serving the community like this this time of year. With COVID this year. It is a blessing from God. That is all I can say about it. It is wonderful to see these kids.”