Halloween fun at TRIO puts smiles on both pumpkins and people

Students reminisced about favorite Halloween costumes, candies, and scary movies while carving pumpkins at the TRIO offices in Gorham and Portland.

A jack-o-lantern workshop had students digging deep, and not just for pumpkin seeds. They also dug up lots of happy Halloween memories.

TRIO College Programs hosted the event on October 19 at its offices in Gorham and Portland. Providing these kinds of reminders of home and family is one of the many ways that TRIO helps member students navigate the challenges of college life.

Students entered the TRIO offices to the familiar beat of Halloween music like Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and the Ghostbusters’ theme. But the conversation between friends often overpowered the music as they got down to the business that brought them there.

The other ubiquitous sound was the gush of knives slicing through pumpkin flesh. The workspace was well-supplied with all kinds of cutting and scraping tools. Patterns were available to help with ideas beyond the usual smiling face. Anyone who preferred to keep their hands clean of orange goo had the option to paint their pumpkin instead.

Erika Santillanes, a freshman studying Occupational Therapy, had never carved a pumpkin before. She came to TRIO’s Gorham office with veteran carver Sarah Beaulieu, a sophomore Nursing major. The Nursing program was also well-represented at the Portland office by Rachel Jones and Jacquelyn Pisano, both seniors. All four of them have strong opinions about Halloween.

Sarah Beaulieu grits her teeth as she hollows out a pumpkin at TRIO's jack-o-lantern carving workshop.
Sarah Beaulieu grits her teeth as she grabs a handful of pumpkin pulp.

Favorite Halloween Costume

BEAULIEU: “One year when I was little I was a pirate and I ended up having a meltdown before going trick-or-treating because I didn’t have an eyepatch. And then I ended up not going trick-or-treating because I was so upset.”

JONES: “I had a couple of really unique costumes, but they were never good. I was a spider, and that was really not done well. But recently, since I’ve been in college, I’ve been a witch for all four years. Probably will continue that this year.”

PISANO: “I was a dalmatian from ‘101 Dalmatians’ and my mom was matching when I was a kid. It was kind of cute.”

SANTILLANES: “A fairy. I did a fairy for a couple of years. I don’t know why, but I just like the feeling of being a fairy, I guess.”

Before a pumpkin can be carved, it first needs to be relieved of its innards, as demonstrated by students at TRIO's jack-o-lantern workshop.
Even with all of the carving tools that TRIO made available, bare hands were often the preferred option for students.

Favorite Trick-Or-Treat Candy

BEAULIEU: “Probably Kit Kats or Snickers. … They’re just good, chocolate!”

JONES: “I feel like 100 Grand bars, ‘cause they’re really unique. I feel like not a lot of people have them anymore. And definitely a lot of fruity candy I’m a fan of, but I can’t think of them right now. Not licorice, I feel like that’s not a good Halloween candy.”

PISANO: “I love candy corn and a lot of people don’t, which I don’t get. … It’s only around once a year and it’s good.”

SANTILLANES: “Sour Patch Kids. I love them. They’re sweet and they’re sour. You can’t go wrong with that.”

Some students at TRIO's jack-o-lantern workshop preferred to paint rather than carve their pumpkins.
Paint was available for students who didn’t want to cut into their pumpkins.

Favorite Scary Movie

BEAULIEU: “Probably ‘Killer Clowns from Outer Space.’ It’s not very scary and I was able to get through it. But I also was watching it with a ton of my friends in broad daylight.”

JONES: “I would say I’m pro-scary movie. I listen to a lot of true crime podcasts, too. ‘Us’ was a really great scary movie. … I just watched ‘The Watcher’ on Netflix which is like a true crime show and that’s kind of spooky. It scared me.”

PISANO: “I love the Conjuring series because they just keep coming out with them, so it’s always guaranteed horror movies. And I also really like the movie ‘Us.’ … I’m always the loudest in a movie theatre. It’s embarrassing going to horror movies with me because I’m always screaming, but I love them.”

SANTILLANES: “I hate Chucky. I can’t watch Chucky at all. A lot of people are like, ‘It’s so good.’ No, it’s not. I hate dolls. I am extremely scared of dolls. I hate them so much.”