December 21, 2020  

Media Contacts:

Mark Miller, Administrator, Office of Public Information, 410-313-2022

Anna Hunter, Public Information Superintendent, Howard County Recreation & Parks, 410-313-4686

COLUMBIA, MD – Howard County Recreation & Parks Department’s annual Truck or Treat event was honored with the respected Learning Resources Network (LERN)’s 2020 International Award in Lifelong Learning for Programming. An outstanding achievement, this beloved family program was chosen from a competitive list of over 100 nominations submitted from around the world.

One of Howard County’s most popular annual events, Truck or Treat is held each October at the Gary J. Arthur Community Center in Cooksville. During the event, children don their Halloween costumes and view authentic police cars, ambulances and other first-responder vehicles provided by Recreation & Parks, the Bureau of Highways, the Department of Public Works, Howard County Police Department, Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services, and other local organizations.

“This year especially required our departments to think outside of the box to host a creative and safe Trunk or Treat,” said County Executive Calvin Ball. “We could not be prouder of our Recreation & Parks team who pivoted and were able to still offer a fun and engaging opportunity for our residents and families. This award exemplifies the determination of our team to ensure interactive and thoughtful learning for our community.”

Christine DiGioia, a program development specialist at Howard County Recreation & Parks Department, developed an innovative 5-step process to support modification of events to allow them to be adapted to the new realities of offering events in the era of COVID. At this year’s modified event, participants enjoyed an “I Spy” scavenger hunt and received a special treat bag to take home in lieu of trick or treating. To ensure the safety of ticketholders and staff, this year’s Truck or Treat event required face mask use, followed staggered entrance times designed to ensure physical distancing and restricted crowd size.

The department received the award at LERN’s International Annual Conference, which was attended virtually by 1,600 professionals in the field of lifelong learning. During the awards ceremony, LERN President William A. Draves emphasized Recreation & Parks’ success in adapting the popular fall event to follow COVID-19 safety guidance.

“This award would not have been possible without the hard work and innovation of Christine DiGioia and the staff at the Gary J. Arthur Community Center” said Recreation & Parks Director Raul Delerme. “Thanks to her leadership, Recreation & Parks has developed a five-step process for modifying future special events so they can be held safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

For additional photos from this year’s Truck or Treat event, visit

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