In 2001 the church I worked at in Indiana was doing a Harvest Carnival Party thingy. It was my first year there and my Senior Pastor had asked that I make some significant changes and make it an event the pubic would really want to come to. Unfortunately we didn’t have any money to do it any differently than we had done in years past, so we changed our approach. I got together with my team and we started making some big changes. We changed the name (Family Fun Fest), changed the night (if it was supposed to be a Halloween event, let it be on Halloween) and started to raise money. We went the corporate sponsor route and sold booth sponsorships so we could really improve the event. I had one person on my team who really took it from a little church event and turned it into a city-wide extravaganza. She could raise money like no one else and she had such passion for the event, she ended up running it every year since.
Well, one of my brilliant ideas was a candy drop. At my previous church we did one of these things (mind you, it was a small church). Basically you get all the kids in one space and you just start throwing the candy out there. Once the kids start diving for the candy, you throw it where they aren’t and just keep doing that until all the candy is gone. Well, we set a goal to raise 1 ton of candy and we would drop candy every hour on the hour in each of our two gymnasiums. We had a press box in the big gym and a balcony in the small gym. I’m pretty sure some people doubted my plan, but this 23 year old knew what he was talking about.
So, this was the year that 9/11 happened. With the threat of anthrax, the authorities asked families to not go trick or treating. Instead, they recommended Family Fun Fest. What had been an event for 1500 to 2000 people every year more than tripled in 2001. It was amazing!
So, when it was time for the Candy Drop, people started making their way into our gymnasiums. They kept coming and coming. I’d never seen that many people in the gym before. I was way back in the back watching it all take place. At 7:00 I got on my radio and said, “DROP THE CANDY.” The candy fell from the press box for a few minutes and then stopped. Certainly they weren’t out of candy already. I got on the radio and said, “DROP THE CANDY.” Nothing!
I left the gym, found the stairs and met up with the volunteers who were supposed to be dropping candy. Their faces where white. I think I said something like, “what in the world is going on? Why did you stop?”
I was quickly informed about the major fault in my plan. The gym was packed so tight with people waiting for candy that as the candy fell, people couldn’t actually bend down to pick it up. Instead, they were being helplessly pelted by hard candy in the face and head. Children began crying as parents rushed to cover their children from the candy rain. Angry parents began yelling for the drop to stop, shaking their fists and I’m sure yelling some obscenities. Oops!
I later came to find out we had many bruises, on child who needed stitches and one of my co-workers had his watch faces smashed by a dum dum. That was the last year we did a candy drop. That was the last time I’ll ever do a candy drop. It’s been 4 years since I’ve worked at Graceland, but my team hasn’t forgotten that October 31, and they’ll never let me forget either.
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