Fun’s in fashion at Trunk or Treat

Military families make the most of their special day

By Tom Vogt, Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter



Amber Schlesser, right, with the Oregon Air National Guard's 142nd Fighter Wing, hands out Halloween candy during Saturday's Trunk or Treat event at the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Vancouver.

A car cruise-in was part of the Trunk or Treat event at the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Vancouver Saturday.

In a place where clothing leans toward military camouflage, Kate Baumgartner was dressed as a ballerina.

And she didn’t really stand out in the crowd. Not with Yoda on his dad’s shoulder over here, and a two-legged Dalmatian standing next to his fireman father over there. Meanwhile, one of the undead was enjoying the passing parade from the vantage point of his coffin.

It was all part of Saturday’s “Trunk or Treat” at the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Sifton.

The event was an opportunity for military families to get together while their kids went trick-or-treating in the parking lot of the Reserve Center, 15005 N.E. 65th St. As the kids gave their Halloween outfits an afternoon workout, adults — many in their own costumes — handed out candy from the trunk of their cars of the back of their SUVs.

Kate, the 6-year-old ballerina, was quick to explain that her ballet apparel wasn’t just a Halloween costume.

“I’m a real ballerina,” said Kate. “This is my recital costume.”

She was accompanied by 9-year-old brother Alex Baumgartner, doing

business as the Incredible Hulk, and their mom, Pam Baumgartner.

They’re a National Guard family, which connected them with lots of other people at the Saturday gathering — and three others just like it across the state.

The Trunk-or-Treat events (the others were in Spokane, Marysville and Camp Murray, near Tacoma) were organized through the Washington National Guard’s Joint Services Support program. It’s a way to support local families who might have someone serving overseas.

“We’ve got multiple units deployed at the current time,” said Gary Lott, a manager with the Joint Services Support program. “A lot of people don’t realize that the National Guard are people who are raising families in the community. When Guardsmen deploy, their families are still there. It is kind of sad that the community doesn’t realize this.

“I ask Guardsmen who deploy about the toughest challenge, and it’s their families who are left back here,” Lott said from his office near Tacoma.

Trunk or Treat drew a range of military families. The Oregon Air National Guard was represented by Angela Helin and Amber Schlesser, both of Gresham, Ore., who serve with the 142nd Fighter Wing in Portland. They enjoyed an opportunity for Air and Army units to get together.

Rick Rotmans is a full-time career counselor based at the Reserve Center. The “firefighter” brought his 3-year-old son Caden, dressed appropriately as a firehouse dog.

“We’re here to support this,” Rotmans said.

Jodie Prieto-Rodriguez is on active duty as an Army health-care recruiter. The staff sergeant and his wife, Jessica, brought their 10-month-old son Finnegan — dressed as Yoda — and daughter Charlie, almost 4.

The event took place on the Saturday before Halloween, but that wasn’t the only thing that went into scheduling it, said Robbin Seeberger, who coordinates family programs for the Washington National Guard.

“It’s a weekend when there are no National Guard drills,” she said.