Dorri Partain

Candy is dandy, especially at Halloween, but making sure you have enough for thousands of trick-or-treaters is a task that takes months of planning.
After a two-year suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Scarritt Renaissance Neighborhood Association is once again ready to host the annual Scare-It Halloween event on October 31. Event director and resident Dylan Van Gerpen is excited for the event’s return.

“It feels wonderful to give our neighbors, friends, family, and the city back an event that has spanned 27 years and two generations of participants,” Van Gerpen said “We were devastated to stop a long-standing tradition and frankly struggled to do so with many people being accustomed to our event regardless of extenuating circumstances.”

The Scare-It Halloween event has become a tradition for Northeast youngsters that traverse safely along Gladstone Boulevard. The street is closed to traffic and homeowners decorate their house and yards – many of the homes are historic mansions over 100 years old that lend themselves well to the spooky but fun atmosphere.

Van Gerpen first became involved with the event as a “safe house,” one of the many homes that participate either by decorating their yards or hosting costumed volunteers to pass out candy. He took on the title of director four years ago when the neighborhood association was contemplating scrapping the event due to the cost and amount of planning involved.

“I am excited to announce that the new neighborhood association had a unanimous decision to take it back on as their signature event every year starting next year,” Van Gerpen said.

In previous years, the event received $5,000 from the Neighborhood Tourism Development Fund (NTDF), which amounted to about a fourth of the expenses to host such an event. The remainder usually came from corporate sponsors and other individuals. According to Van Gerpen, the neighborhood association does not provide any funding for the event.

“We had acquired some amazing corporate sponsors in 2019,” Van Gerpen said. “After COVID, a lot of them reevaluated their donations and dropped us. Corporate sponsors are making up a small but important piece of our fundraising, but I must give most of the accolades to our residents and neighbors.”

So far, a Facebook fundraising campaign has raised over $1,800. Donations are still being accepted.

The major expense is the candy for this free, family friendly event. To make sure every trick-or-treater gets a good amount of candy, the volunteers pass out 220,000 candy bars, lollipops, and other assorted sweets during the three-hour event. For that amount of candy, the event planners need to budget at least $10,000.

“After a two year hiatus and a drastic change in funding, we are going back to the basics,” Van Gerpen said. “Most of our additional flair planning comes near the end after we know that we can cover our candy cost.”

While the candy is always the major draw for Scare-It attendees, the atmosphere also plays a big part. With the Kansas City Museum’s participation, the popular “ghostly figures” will be roaming the museum grounds. Van Gerpen indicated that lucky attendees might spot a few ghosts floating by the museum’s windows this year as well.

So far, 13 houses on the trick-or-treating route are confirmed as safe houses, though they may end up with 17 by the night of the event. Despite all the planning, Van Gerpen knows how important this event is to the community’s youngsters.

“This event has always been put on by the community, which I think speaks volumes to the event, our people and our community,” Van Gerpen concluded. “No matter how big our event could be or gets, our focus will always be about providing a safe space for all to experience the tradition of Halloween and have it a safe space to do it in. This event takes a village and community dollars and we hope everyone sees the value in this tradition.”

This year’s Scare-It Halloween will take place on Monday, October 31 from 5 to 8 p.m. along Gladstone Boulevard. Food trucks will also have non-candy treats available for sale. To volunteer or donate, visit the event’s website at