COLUMBIA — The Broadway Christian Church parking lot was full Sunday afternoon.
Packed with superheroes, swamp folks, Smurfs, gun-toting gangsters, ninjas, witches and athletes, the lot was home to the church's Trick or Trunk event.
The event was designed to be a fun and safe environment for children to satisfy their Halloween candy cravings, said Barb Stephenson, coordinator of children's ministries at Broadway Christian Church.
"You know the people; you know the candy's OK, and it's just safe for the kids," Stephenson said.
More than 100 children, along with their parents, dressed up in costumes to trick-or-treat from about 20 cars set up around the parking lot on what ended up being a partly sunny, 60 degree afternoon.
Dressed in an American flag spandex suit, church member Chris Meade stood in front his SUV, which was covered in the same colors he wore. Meade said he and his wife, Kristen, have been taking their daughter to Trick or Trunk for three years, but this was the first time they decorated their own car.
Meade said even though they will do a little bit of neighborhood trick-or-treating Monday evening, Trick or Trunk is a fun, safe environment for his daughter.
"I don't understand the thought of taking your kids to other neighborhoods and dropping them off," Meade said as he stood tall over the small Statue of Liberty — his daughter Maggie — that clung to his leg. "It's safe here."
On the other end of the parking lot, Associate Minister Nick Larson stood by his Subaru as the sound system blasted out the "Star Wars" theme song. Larson's two dogs lay in the back, dressed in Darth Vader and Yoda dog costumes. His wife was holding their daughter, Leah, who was crying because her Princess Leia hair cap was slightly big for her head.
"Since we named her Leah, we thought it would be entertaining to go with the obvious," Larson said. "Naturally, the whole family followed along."
Larson oversees the children's program at the church and said Trick or Trunk is a good way for the church to celebrate the holiday and provide a safe place for kids to trick-or-treat. The event was open to the public, and Larson said it's a good community outreach program now that a number of kids from the surrounding neighborhoods attend.
Even cars got in on the costume action. Church members decorated their trunks for the event. One car, a Toyota Corolla, had cardboard cutouts of a great white shark taped to each side of it. The inside of the trunk was then turned into the shark's mouth using some cloth.
Similar events were scheduled at other churches in Columbia on Sunday, but Stephenson said the events were separate.