Apparently young ghouls find Trunk or Treating pretty cool.

Back in 2001, the first year kids could collect treats from car trunks at First Lutheran, a couple hundred trick-or-treaters showed up.

Now, it's more like 2,000.

"It was just kind of a way to give kids a safe environment," said administrative assistant Karen Brazel. "It's just grown. Every year it's grown and grown. I know more churches are trying to do it, too."

In fact, the crowds are so huge that First Lutheran doesn't expect treat-givers to meet all the demand. Instead, those at the trunks raise a flag when they're running low on candy, and church youth run resupply missions, said church administrator Greg Tvrdik.

In the weeks leading up to Halloween, church members donate candy to the cause - about 25,000 pieces, including candy bars and suckers. Plus, they donate another 6,000 pieces to neighbors as a "thank you" for putting up with the traffic.

Last year, he said, about 2,200 kids came, and many of them go trick-or-treating through the neighborhood.

It can be a little disconcerting for a neighbor to stock 500 pieces of candy, and then run out by 5 p.m.

"A lot of them just got nailed," said Dennis Stark, a church member who, along with his wife, Corliss, has dispensed candy from their trunk ever since the event began. "In the summer then we have a neighborhood appreciation luncheon."

Lola Anderson, who typically hands out M&Ms and Three Musketeers from her trunk with her husband, David, are retired Holmes City farmers. They prefer trunk-or-treating in town, she said.

"You get more kids," she explained. "You live out in the country, you maybe only get a couple, three."

She enjoys seeing all the costumes, and not just on kids. Adults, too, transform themselves, as well as their trunks.

Trunk-or-treat has brought out some elaborate trunks, such as the set of the movie "Up," a Crayola house, Disney characters, and a salt and pepper team who decorated their trunk like a dinner table, Tvrdik said.

Every year, the trunks compete for best decorating job. He said the goal, which the church has met in recent years, is to have 28 trunks.

Trunksters keep in mind that tricksters might have food allergies. Last year, the church joined the Teal Pumpkin Project, and trunks sport teal pumpkin stickers indicating that they give out peanut-free and gluten-free candy or else stickers or pencils.

"It is fun," Brazel said. "It's a crazy, hectic two hours out there."

It's the church's last Halloween at 822 Douglas St. By next Oct. 31, it will be settled into its new home near Woodland Elementary School. The church plans on running Trunk or Treat at its new spot, Tvrdik said.

First Lutheran's Trunk or Treat will take place 4:30-6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 31. All children are welcome. The church requests families bring a box of granola bars to donate to the Discovery Middle School Food Shelf.

Other Halloween events

A number of other Halloween-related activities are planned for the next few days. Here is a brief rundown:

Nordic Meadow trick-or-treat

Sunday, Oct. 28, 2-3:30 p.m.

Nordic Meadow apartment building welcomes trick-or-treaters for this annual event. After decorating trick-or-treat bags (guests may bring their own), guests will go door-to-door, and also decorate a cookie. The building is at 34th Ave. E. in Alexandria. For more information, contact Becca at windmillprojectmn@gmail.com or 320-766-2975.

Youth Halloween party in Carlos

Sunday, Oct. 28, 4-6 p.m.

This spooky, fun-filled evening at the Carlos Events Center will feature numerous games and a bike giveaway for a girl and a boy. A free event, it is co-sponsored by the Lions Club of Carlos and Liberty Livewires 4-H Club of Nelson. Bicycles are for children ages 11 and under and will be awarded at 6 p.m. Must be present to win. The event will include games, a photo station, crafts, raffles and light meal, and costumes are encouraged. Youths must be accompanied by an adult. For more information, call 320-852-6958.

Haunted house in Forada

Wednesday, Oct. 31, 5:30-7 p.m.

Forada's Community Halloween Party will offer games, prizes and candy in Forada City Hall, plus a haunted house in the old Muddy Boot. Names for a bike giveaway will be drawn at city hall at 6:45 p.m. The bikes are donated by Forada Lions and those whose names are drawn must be present to win. There is no charge; however, a free-will offering will be accepted to support the Lucky Star 4-H Club.

'Frankenstein' book discussion

Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2 p.m.

The Douglas County Library will host a discussion of Mary Shelley's masterpiece, "Frankenstein."

Haunting for the Humane Society

Wednesday, Oct. 31, 3-9 p.m.

Take a haunted walk through the yard of the home owned by Scott Manis, 903 Park St., in Alexandria. Watch for signs. The Manis family, including Scott and his daughter, Tricia, will hand out toys instead of candy again this year during their second annual Haunting for the Humane Society. They have doubled the size of the haunted walk and have a couple of new props. Monetary donations are not accepted. Instead, the Manis family is asking for supplies for pets, including food, toys and other supplies.

Downtown trick-or-treat

Wednesday, Oct. 31, 3-5 p.m.

Once again, downtown Alexandria businesses will hand out treats to small ghosts and goblins. Participating stores will carry trick or treat posters in their windows.

Trick or Treat at Bethany

Wednesday, Oct. 31, 3-5 p.m.

Bethany on the Lake, 1020 Lark St. in Alexandria, will open its doors for indoor trick-or-treating. Use the south chapel door.

Fall Fest in the Fort

Wednesday, Oct. 31, 3-6 p.m.

For the first time, the Runestone Museum will host Fall Fest in the Fort, which will overlap with downtown trick-or-treating hours of 3-5 p.m.

Fall fest will offer activities such as crystal ball reading, storytelling, Viking games, a coloring table, a Halloween hunt, or scavenger hunt, free treats and cider. Plus, guests will get a chance to make their own edible treats and their own X-ray activities.

This community event is free and open to everyone. It will be primarily held outdoors, and the museum encourages guests to dress for the weather. For more information or to help with the event, call 763-3160 or email bigole@rea-alp.com.

Osakis Community Halloween Party

Wednesday, Oct. 31, 5:30-7 p.m.

The annual Osakis Community Halloween Party at the Osakis High School cafeteria will offer candy, fun and prizes.

Kids should dress in their Halloween costumes. This party is for children through sixth grades. They can eat hot dogs, chips, cookies and punch, and adults and older kids can eat for $1.

Game tables will be set up around the perimeter of the cafeteria, and children may complete a craft project to take home. Door prizes will also be awarded.

To volunteer, call Deb Murphy at 320-293-4491.

The event is co-sponsored by the Osakis Women's Association and the Osakis School District with financial support from the VFW, Osakis Lions and the VFW Auxiliary.

Osakis Trunk or Treat

Wednesday, Oct. 31, starting at 4:30 p.m.

Osakis Presbyterian Church will host Trunk or Treat in the church parking lot at 101 West Oak St. The church especially invites trunks from those who want to join in the fun but don't get many trick or treaters at their homes.

Candy at the dentist

It'll be trick-or-treat in reverse at Alexandria Smiles, a dental office that will hold its 11th annual Halloween Candy Buy Back in November. Dr. Erick Nolting and his team will swap unopened candy for $1 per pound, up to five pounds. They'll then send it in care packages to overseas troops as part of Operation Gratitude.

"Families want their children to enjoy the fun of trick-or-treating, but many ... wind up with more candy then they want their children to consume," the clinic said. "We think this program offers a terrific solution to this dilemma, and it's a win-win for our troops as well."

Candy collection will take place Thursday and Friday, Nov. 1-2, from 7 a.m.-1 p.m. and Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 5-6, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. The clinic is at 1400 Hawthorne St., Suite 3, in Alexandria. For more information, call 320-762-0217, or visit www.OperationGratitude.com.

To get your event listed in future issues, send it to ktolkkinen@echopress.com.