Step Right Up:
The Berrie Center Hosts a Carnival-Themed Halloween Party

Scarecrows and witches, black cats and clowns too all showed up for the Berrie Center’s much anticipated Halloween Party. In its 20th year, this year’s theme was the Berrie Center Fall Carnival and it truly was all fun and games.

Ringmasters Cara Lampron, Kindra Matthews and Annie Trowbridge orchestrated a knock out performance, while the magical Berrie Center care team dazzled throughout the evening. The party was a smash hit for nearly 100 pediatric patients and their families.

A highlight of the carnival was an experiential maze created by Art Therapist Cara Lampron. Each hall of the maze reflected a different sensation of experiencing a type 1 diabetes (T1D) diagnosis. The glow-in-the-dark maze incorporated elements of sound, touch, sight and emotion.

Like a new diagnosis, the start of maze was “disorienting” for some; then it became “confusing”, and eventually a bit “easier to manage”. Children were encouraged to bring Rufus the diabetes bear along so they could help Rufus navigate the experience the using their own coping skills.

Cara used a variety of different materials, lighting and paint colors to create the installation. She based her decision to use natural materials (including straw) at the end of the maze because, as one patient explained to her, “You find your way; you make peace.”

For completing the maze, kids received tickets they could redeem for prizes at the ticket booth.

The sensory experience continued at the “petting zoo” where guests met a spiny hedgehog, a rabbit and a tarantula. Other carnival-themed activities operated by our teen volunteers included face painting, pin the pump on Dracula and bobbing for apples. All signage for treats including popcorn, pizza, and cookies included carbohydrate content making this the most T1D friendly carnival in town.

The Berrie Center’s Halloween party, usually held the day after Halloween, is also a candy exchange so kids can drop off their excess candy and select a toy instead. So successful is this concept of swapping candy for toys, that the party has become a model for similar programs throughout the country for kids with T1D.

“Halloween can be a tricky time for our young patients and their families, but our party turns the holiday from a stressful time into one that can be celebrated,” said Berrie Center Co-Director Robin Goland, MD, the J. Merrill Eastman Professor of Clinical Diabetes. “Every year parents come up to me and remark on how much the event means to their families, and this year was no exception.”

This year, a handful of grateful patients and lifestyle brand Bonberi generously donated toys and funds for the swap. In addition, the Alfano family donated Sticker Beans and helped to underwrite the party. Special thanks to Susan Cook of Susan Cook Photography for capturing many wonderful moments. 

Enjoy the 2019 Berrie Center Halloween party in pictures!

Photo Gallery