Article from the Riverstown Patch – http://rivertowns.patch.com/articles/celebrate-a-food-allergy-friendly-halloween
Aside from the costumes, spooks, and pumpkins, the one thing that screams Halloween more than anything else is candy. Chocolate, caramel, peanut-ty, crunchy, sugary goodness is a staple for the holiday, and year after year, children eagerly await the chance to roam the neighborhood collecting their bounty, return home, dump it all out on the carpet, and dive into a serious sugar buzz.
For children dealing with food allergies, however, Halloween is an unfortunate reminder of the challenges they face each and every day of their lives. Kids can be allergic to almost anything, from nuts to soy to dairy and more. “One of my friends… her little one is allergic to corn,” said Suzie Fromer, founder of WestFAST, a food allergy support group for Westchester County. “And that’s in every candy.”
So she set out to create a Halloween party that all these kids could freely enjoy. The result is a Food Allergy Friendly Halloween Party at Life The Place To Be on Sunday, October 31 from 2-4 p.m.
“Food allergy-friendly means no food,” explained Fromer. “Because the problem is, someone is allergic to everything. So the concept of a food-allergy-friendly party is it’s 2-4. It’s after lunch, and it’s before dinner. People in my community always travel with their own food. We’re going to have wipes on every table and there are going to be safe-eating tables, but then you wipe up and you go play.”
Children are encouraged to come in costume for the costume contest, and the party will double as the US album release party for the second album by Kyle Dine, a kid-friendly rock star with a host of food allergies himself, “I’m allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, fish, shellfish, and mustard,” he explained. Dine’s new album—titled “Food Allergies Rock!”—deals with a lot of themes that kids with food allergies go through in their everyday lives.
Fromer, who has been working with Dine to produce his new album, was delighted when the Canadian musician agreed to participate in the event. “I felt who better to celebrate Halloween with, for my kids, than Kyle Dine?” she said.
Dine didn’t hesitate when Fromer’s invitation arrived, knowing just how important this event would be for children who are going through the same issues he’s dealt with his entire life. “It’s great to have an event, not only that [children with food allergies] feel safe at and can be included in, but just something that they can feel special with. There are a lot of things that come out of having food allergies, like bullying and a lot of the negative aspects. It’s great to have events like this which really celebrate the fact that everyone is living well with this condition.”
Also performing at the event will be Charlie Hope, a vibrant member of the ‘kindie rock’ movement of kid-friendly, independent artists who specialize in children’s music that parents can also enjoy. Fromer hooked Hope up with Dine for a duet on “Food Allergies Rock!” and she jumped at the chance to join him at the event.
Once Fromer decided to put on the event, she went searching for a venue and quickly found “Life The Place To Be,” just on the other side of the Saw Mill River Parkway at 2 Lawrence Street in Ardsley. “Life” was more than happy to open their doors to the cause. “To do something like this, where there’s no food involved but have the kids actually enjoy Halloween just for the sense of enjoying it and being together when they’re sharing the same issues is a wonderful thing,” said marketing director Sheri Leonard. “I think parents will be thrilled to know that something like this is going on, that their kids could really have fun without having to worry about anything touching them, any kind of peanut or any kind of allergic reaction from any food.”
Parents wondering what they can do to be a food allergy-friendly household at Halloween should check out the website, http://www.allergyfreehalloween.org. The site contains downloadable signs you can put up announcing that you feature allergy-friendly treats for Trick-or-Treaters, as well as a list of allergy-friendly treats such as Smarties, Dum Dums, Skittles, and Sour Patch Kids. Fromer suggests parents keep the allergy-friendly candy separate from other candy in a second bowl, to ensure there is no cross-contamination.
Fromer hopes that the event will help bring attention to the difficulties kids with food allergies face. But more than that, she hopes that for two hours at least, these kids can just enjoy Halloween. “We really wanted to make it a safe place to come, to celebrate, to dance, to listen to the music, to play the games, to run around, and have food not be an issue for once.” She says.
The Food Allergy-Friendly Halloween Party is Sunday, October 31, from 2-4pm at Life The Place To Be. Admission is $30 for a family of up to 5, with $5 per family going to benefit FAAN (The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network). For more information, contact Suzie Fromer firstname.lastname@example.org or (646) 785-6297, or visit www.lifetheplacetobe.com.