COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A group of Columbus mothers held a special event Sunday to provide the city’s children with a safe space to celebrate Halloween while also trying to remember those they’ve lost to violence.
Trunk or treats across central Ohio Sunday offered families a chance to dress up and collect candy during daylight. One of those events was held at Sharon Woods Metro Park and organized by the non-profit organization Mothers of Murdered Columbus Children.
Handing out candy for Halloween was something Meshell Blair loved to do with her son Cameron Kates. In fact, she still remembers the last costume he wore.
“Oh yes, he loved it, he loved to dress up in the costume,” Blair said. “His last costume he dressed up as was ‘Scream’ and he had the voice box and everything else to really go over the top.”
But this year marks Blair’s second Halloween without her son.
“He was a kid himself,” she said. “If he was here, he would be here, so just, it gives me peace knowing that I’m helping out.”
Kates was 19 when he was shot and killed near the end of March 2021. Blair said celebrations without her son can be difficult, but he’s part of the reason she spent her Sunday afternoon at a trunk or treat.
“He would want me to keep doing it, not to give up because it’s so easy just to say, ‘No, I’m not going to celebrate any more holidays,'” Blair said.
Organizers said even though events like Sunday’s trick or treat can bring memories of their own lost children, the smiles and giving others a safe space to trick or treat make it worth it.
“It’s part of the healing process,” said Jacqueline Casimire, one of the organizers of the event. “We have to move forward. We can’t stay stagnant in our grief and this is a positive, fun, uplifting experience for us.”
For Blair, it’s a way to keep honoring her son.
“It helps a hurting heart to help people, so that’s why I’m in it,” Blair said. “That’s why I do it.”
This marked the third year in a row Mothers of Murdered Columbus Children held the event.
“It’s a controlled environment,” Casimire said. “It keeps the kids, maybe some of the kids who are in a little rougher neighborhoods, their parents don’t have to worry so much about going door to door.”
For more trick-or-treat dates and times throughout central Ohio, click here.