About 700 kids with special needs enjoy trick or treating at the Embassy Suites in Rogers for Halloween each year with generous corporate and non-profit sponsors paying for the opportunity to give them candy. Now that’s community.
During this annual Trick or Suite event, Embassy Suites reaches out to Bentonville and Rogers public schools, the Sunshine Academy, Kids First Lowell, The Children’s Advocacy Center of Benton County and other organizations in the area.
The kids have a fun, safe environment to trick or treat in. The parents have peace of mind regarding weather, traffic safety, and conditions that may affect their children’s comfort.
“We meet any and all special needs, whether physical or mental,” explains Emily Rector, event services manager at Embassy Suites. “All suites follow particular guidelines to ensure that we are creating a safe environment for the children. We do not allow for any strobe lighting or overly scary displays. We also provide quiet rooms on every floor so that if a child becomes overwhelmed by the crowds or excitement their parents or guardians have a safe space to take them to.”
The kids are treated to a large space for candy, games, giveaways, and interaction with fun characters. The event is held in the Spa Atrium, which encompasses the ground floor as well as the 3rd, 4th and 5th floors of the Spa Tower. The event this year will use 31 suites.
Each suite is sponsored by a local organization or company. That group is responsible for decorating their suite with a particular theme of their choosing and then they hand out candy and/or toys and games to the children as they come through.
“Our sponsors participate by renting suites, decorating them and then interact with the children throughout the event handing out candy and playing games,” says Rector. “We also receive product donations from a number of sponsors. Those listed on the flyer are only a fraction of the participation we see from the community. We charge rental for each suite, and 100 percent of the proceeds go to the Children’s Advocacy Center of Benton County.” More than $15,000 has been raised thus far with the event in its 5th year.
The kids get a unique experience of personal face time and interaction with some of their favorite characters from movies and games. Children’s faces light up with excitement when they see Darth Vader, a pirate, a princess, or another character say hello or perhaps play a game with them.
The kids and families rise to the occasion as well with some stellar costumes. “There was a family in 2015 that was incredibly adorable,” says Rector. “The parents went as Krispy Kreme employees, the daughter was a donut and the son was a police officer. We’ve also seen some incredible costumes from children in strollers or wheelchairs. I’ve seen Cinderella’s carriage, trains and cars affixed to strollers and wheelchairs to make the child look like they’re driving or riding in luxury. A few years ago we had a family that went as the Wizard of Oz, complete with the Cowardly Lion asleep in his stroller throughout the entire event.”
Hilton Worldwide honored Embassy Suites in Rogers with the 2015 Make a Difference Award for Hilton Brands. And they do make a difference within their community through this event.
Every year, they are grateful to hear stories from parents and sponsors alike, that speak to the importance of Trick or Suite. Last year, they received this note from a parent who’s child participated:
“I just wanted to personally say thank you for a fabulous event last night! The "trick or suite" was a great night for my kids! My son Brady, has high functioning autism & doesn't love large crowds or bulky costumes. However, he LOVED visiting all the different rooms & seeing all the effort & hard work of the vendors! It truly was amazing! As you can see, he loved the fairies & the laser lights on the ceiling! It brought tears to my eyes just thinking about all of those vendors that took time away from their families to make our night (and all the other families night) so special! Very heart-warming & we appreciate it so much!”