Trick-or-treating for a good cause

Anchorage event expands into Eagle River


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Ian Robbins dressed as Buzz Lightyear for the innaugural event, which Robbins’ father, Sean, came up with as a way for his terminally-ill boy to get one last chance at collecting some Halloween candy. Ian Robbins passed away in 2005, but since that first event, the annual early Halloween event has spread to several different parts of Anchorage and Eagle River. This year’s event will be held on Sunday, Sept. 11 in the Eaglewood neighborhood.

STAR PHOTO BY MIKE NESPER

Halloween is coming early to Chugiak-Eagle River.

Trick or Treat in the Heat, a fundraiser for the Hospice of Anchorage, Ronald McDonald House and Make-A-Wish Foundation, will be held in the Eaglewood subdivision of Eagle River on Sunday, Sept. 11. Blue wristbands, which serve as tickets for the event, can be purchased for $10 at House of Bounce, Picture This and The Crave.

All of the proceeds go to one of the three charities, said event creator Sean Robbins.

“We don’t take anything off the top,” he said.

Trick or Treat in the Heat started in 2005 as a way to give Robbins’ terminally ill 5-year-old son, Ian, one more trick-or-treating experience. Sean and his wife, Joyce Durcanin-Robbins, put on the impromptu event after they were told Ian, who was dying of leukemia, had just weeks to live.

The event has carried on in Ian’s name in West Anchorage every September since his passing in October 2005.

During the first year, Robbins said he and his wife realized they might have stumbled onto something with potential. They were right.

Every June, Robbins said his phone starts ringing and emails fill his inbox with people wanting to know if the event is being held again. Last year, the fundraiser brought in $18,000, Robbins said.

This year, Trick or Treat in the Heat is expanding into Eagle River and South Anchorage.

Robbins is hoping the event will continue to grow.

“We’re probably looking to expand it again next year,” he said.

Eaglewood resident Sarah McKinnon is responsible for bringing the event to Eagle River. Robbins said McKinnon contacted him about hosting it in her neighborhood.

With so many families, Eagle River — and in particular, Eaglewood — is a great place for the event, McKinnon said.

“I just wanted to give back to the community,” she said. “Everyone is so kind that lives in Eaglewood.”

The event is a way to provide a fun activity for families while supporting three great causes, McKinnon said.

“People want to be here with their kids. They want activities,” she said. “To be able to do that for charity is pretty amazing to me.

“It’s really for a good cause,” McKinnon added.

In addition to the three Eagle River businesses, anyone interested in buying a wristband can contact McKinnon at 350-9632.

Pre-event festivities start at 5:30 p.m. and trick-or-treating will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Children can go door-to-door at designated houses within the subdivision.

The event has become more than trick-or-treating, Robbins said. Families use it as a way to throw a birthday party, adults host barbecues and even pets don costumes, he said.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Robbins said.

Along with honoring his son and donating to charity, Trick or Treat in the Heat allows kids to dress up without planning a costume around a snowsuit, Robbins said.

The event unifies the community, Robbins said.

“It’s tremendously rewarding to see the neighborhoods come together,” he said.

The children, too, understand that it’s more than just a day of free candy, Robbins said. They realize what the event represents, he said.

“The kids are getting what it’s about,” Robbins said. “Seeing kids get that message is very rewarding as well.”

Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or mike.nesper@alaskastar.com

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