An avatar mills about in the crowd of roughly 800 people who attended last year’s Very Healthy Happy Halloween Party, where fresh fruit and healthy foods were served instead of candy.
When you’re a kid, the recipe for a great Halloween includes three ingredients: Dress up as your favorite superhero or princess, carve a jack-o-lantern, and score as much candy as you can from the neighbors.
Over the last two years, however, Brotherhood Crusade has added something fresh to the mix. Family members still dress up as President Obama, an avatar, or a witch, and there are still plenty of decorative pumpkins to go around, but the Very Healthy Happy Halloween Party replaces the sugary stuff with healthy snacks that don’t bite back.
This year’s festivities are from 5 to 8 p.m., Friday, October 28, at the EXPO Center, 3980 Bill Robertson Lane (formerly S. Menlo Avenue) in Los Angeles, where families are invited to a magical evening of arts and crafts, games and a petting zoo. Also on tap: healthy-cooking demonstrations, fresh-produce giveaways, and an opportunity for everyone to learn about healthy-lifestyle choices.
Brotherhood Crusade is again partnering with the local outfit, Coast Produce, to transform the way children experience this beloved fall event. Dakota Communications and EXPO Center, which often partners with Brotherhood Crusade, are also sponsors.
“The concept is a twist on conventional Halloween, said Charisse Bremond-Weaver, the president and CEO of Brotherhood Crusade. “Instead of bags full of candy, children will leave with bags full of fresh fruit.”
She adds that it was friend and associate Kerman Maddox of Dakota Communications who inspired the idea, and she got excited about it, too. Maddox saw the need to alter children’s diets when he volunteered at an area middle school a few years back.
“I was shocked by the number of overweight young children, and when I observed the junk food they were eating, it became obvious why they were overweight,” said Maddox. “I thought if we could make it fun to eat healthy—starting at the elementary school level—we might be able to make a change.”
He figured Halloween, where children gobble up tons of candy, would be a good opportunity to experiment with the concept, “because no other special day in the community celebrates unhealthy eating among young people as much as Halloween does.”
He approached Bremond-Weaver because of Brotherhood Crusade’s long-standing commitment to youth.
The team planning the first healthy Halloween party got a boost when First Lady Michelle Obama announced her anti-obesity campaign, Let’s Move! That initiative inspired Coast Produce to come onboard to help make the party a hit.
“It all started with a vision that the owner of the company had, which was to give back to the community, and to educate the younger generation,” said Mel Wong of Coast Produce, “and it happened to coincide with the First Lady’s campaign.”
The First Lady’s initiative, which launched in 2009, seeks to solve the problem of childhood obesity within a generation, “so that children born today will grow up healthier and able to pursue their dreams,” Mrs. Obama has said. The intention is to provide healthier foods in school and within the community at large, as well as to urge children to become more physically active.
If you want to switch up the treats you give out on Monday, Oct. 31, Halloween night, you could offer trading cards, a ball and jacks, yo-yos or play tattoos. For something edible, you could give out sugar-free gum, pretzels, animal crackers or single-serve microwave popcorn.
In the meantime, consider bringing your little Zombies, Captain Americas and Black Swans to the Very Healthy Happy Halloween event this Friday at EXPO Center.