This Halloween party easily rated as a win-win situation — or, better yet, a win-win-win-win situation.
Many folks felt the good vibrations of “Parents Night Out/Kids Night In,” held the evening of Oct. 28 at Ithaca’s St. Catherine of Siena Parish. Organized and hosted by the parish’s high-school youth group, it lasted from 5:30 to 10 p.m. and offered a variety of games, stories, crafts, songs, snacks and Halloween-themed videos for children ages 2 and up. The party also served as an innovative baby-sitting venue so moms and dads could drop their kids off and enjoy a night to themselves.
“This is a great chance for the high-school youth to get to know some of the younger children in the parish, and provide a much-desired service to the parents with the knowledge that their children are partaking in a fun, safe Halloween party,” commented Erin Ross Moses, high-school youth coordinator at St. Catherine of Siena.
Moses added that the event was a big hit due to “the large number of young families that our parish holds.” Eileen Gravani, who assisted in the event’s organization, noted that 21 youngsters attended on Oct. 28.
“They had a great time, as did our teens,” Gravani remarked.
This marked the second year of Parents Night Out/Kids Night In, as well as the second time that Juan and Michelle Arroyo have brought their daughter Ana Maria, 6, and son Miguel, 3.
“My mother was leaving the very next day for Spain for the winter, so we had a quiet evening home with her and other relatives,” Juan Arroyo said. He quipped that although the night lent itself to the possibility of a nice date, most parents “probably didn’t get out to dinner or anything romantic. They got caught up with things at home.”
Ana Maria Arroyo said her brother’s costume that night was Nemo, whereas she was clad as Sleeping Beauty. Asked how she filled in her time during the party, she reported, “Well, I got some face paint and it was a pumpkin and a heart. And I also colored a book. I cut out pumpkins, and I also got to watch a movie and decorate cookies.”
Ana Maria wasn’t nearly as detailed about her younger brother’s activities. “He just played around,” she said.
Juan Arroyo pointed out that in addition to the children, teens and parents, residents of San Antonio de Padua Parish in Monte Plata, Dominican Republic, also were positively affected by the party. Proceeds from Parents Night Out/Kids Night In (the cost was $20 per child and $35 per family) will help defray the expenses of the youth group’s next mission trip to Monte Plata, scheduled for early 2008.
This poor Caribbean community is St. Catherine’s sister parish and has been the site of several visits by St. Catherine parishioners. The most recent youth trip, in February 2006, involved 17 teens and three adults, including Juan Arroyo. They brought many donated items; did renovation work on natives’ homes; stayed with host families; and visited El Portal de Belen, the nursery school/child-care center that St. Catherine supports financially.
Moses said the youth group is planning a Valentine’s Day Parents Night Out/Kids Night In this winter, as well as such additional future fundraisers as pancake breakfasts, gift-basket raffles and holiday-wreath sales.
“I believe it is very important for the students to know that they earned the money that goes towards the trip,” Moses said.