Karima Askew walks down the "spook walk" with her three daughters at the Community Service Office's Oct. 22 Spooktacular Event. (Nahjiah Miller/Photo Editor)

Spooktacular connects Lehigh and the South Side


Children and families in costumes strolled past the Alumni Memorial Building as they attended the Lehigh Community Service Organization’s annual Spooktacular event. 

These community members were welcomed by students from a variety of campus organizations running events including pumpkin carving, face painting, mini golf and more on Oct. 22. 

Jon Leight, ‘24, a community service officer, said he enjoys how Spooktacular helps merge the Lehigh and Bethlehem communities. 

“Spooktacular started 20-plus years ago and it was just that kids in the South Side wanted a way to celebrate Halloween and we wanted a way to bring the South Side to Lehigh,” Leight said. 

The event also included a twist on an easter egg hunt in which children could look for the 25 pumpkins scattered throughout the event to win a prize. 

A Lehigh student volunteer at Spooktacular paints a child’s face. Face painting was one of many activities available to families at the Community Service Office’s annual event. (Nahjiah Miller/Photo Editor)

Karima Askew, South Side resident and mother of three daughters, said events like this allow her to interact with the Lehigh community and socialize with people she has never met before.

“This type of event brings families together,” Askew said. “I met some great people here.”

In the past, Spooktacular was held inside the University Center but was moved last year to the Alumni Memorial Building to be more accessible to the community. 

Alain Rousseau, ‘25, is the student coordinator for the Community Service Office. He said this is the first year since the pandemic began in which there were no COVID-19 restrictions. Rousseau said this allowed the office to host the event in a more typical way and have a larger turnout than last year.

Community Service Officer Julia McDougall, ‘25, said this year’s Spooktacular hosted over 400 families, whereas last year less than 300 families were in attendance.

Spooktacular held various events for families to participate in, including pumpkin painting. (Nahjiah Miller/Photo Editor)

Rousseau said this event helps provide the children of the South Side with a safe environment to trick or treat.

“This is a great event that bridges the South Side community to the university as a whole,” Rousseau said. “It’s important for us as a university to not only look at our way of improving Lehigh as a school, but improving the surrounding community.”

Sebastian Bedoya, ‘24, a volunteer at the event, said he loves how events like these allow children in the community to encounter Lehigh students who speak the same language as them. 

“I’m a person of color and first generation, and South Bethlehem is a very large Hispanic community,” Bedoya said. “And as a Hispanic myself, it really means a lot to me to see kids here speaking Spanish and holding a conversation with them where they might not be able to on campus.” 

He painted and carved pumpkins alongside children, speaking to them in Spanish. 

He said Spooktacular allows for the Lehigh community to interact with families in a memorable way.

“Everybody’s here because they want to be here,” Bedoya said. “No gain, just help out the kids and give them something fun to do.” 

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