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There’s a good chance tonight’s trick-or-treaters won’t be making their first stops at the candy trough.

“Trunk or treating” — in which little ghouls and goblins collect candy from the back of cars parked in school and church lots — is giving the door-to-door tradition a run for its money in some Metro Detroit communities.

Parents like the idea because events are hosted by trusted people in safe, well-lit areas. Cars can be decorated, music and food is sometimes offered, and there’s no worry about losing track of little ones.

Kevin Watkins of Southfield has been taking his children to trunk or treat events for the past three years at PACE Academy, a K-8 charter school in Southfield.

“When I was growing up, we had to worry about ... stick pins and razor blades in candy, which eventually brought on police stations holding candy checks,” said Watkins, a father of three. “I think this is a great idea because I know my kids will be safe and secure.”

First United Methodist Church in South Lyon jumped at the opportunity when a youth leader suggested a trunk-or-treat event last Halloween, said Heath Whitehead, the church’s director of education and youth ministries.

The event this year was held Wednesday and is growing in popularity, he said. Some 140 kids showed up this year, even though it rained and activities were moved inside.

“This is a way to share with the community while making sure their holiday is safe and happy,” Whitehead said. “Everything is free. We pass out candy and our mission team provided hot dogs and musical entertainment for the kids. It’s a lot of fun.”

Not all parents favor the controlled atmosphere of a trunk or treat, however.

Dan Lounds of Ypsilanti prefers to take his sons, ages 10 and 2, trick-or-treating in the neighborhood.

“I used to take my kids to the mall for trick-or-treating when they were younger, but I feel that if you live in a subdivision it’s pretty safe,” Lounds said. “I know trunk or treat seems to be where it’s at these days, but as long as you are with your kids, neighborhoods are fine.”

The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, in partnership with Pontiac Schools, on Friday hosted its fourth annual Harvest Festival Lights On: Trunk or Treat.

“Families love this event. We bring a lot of resources together to make sure the kids have fun and are safe,” Sheriff Michael Bouchard said.

Safety precautions

If parents decide to take children trick-or-treating, Sheriff Michael J. Bouchard suggests a few safety precautions:

The costume is key. Make sure the child is able to see in order to prevent accidents.

It’s also a good idea to check the sex offender list before going out to certain neighborhoods.

Be a part of the fun with your kids by going through each piece of candy. When in doubt, throw it out.

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