For Kids, Treats No Trick

PBHA offers a safe Halloween for local students

When students in the Quad opened their doors Friday evening, they found themselves facing a three-foot tall Michael Jackson, a dead bride, and Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz.

The dead bride, also known as Margaret Pena, is 13 years old and one of the students involved in Mission Hill After School—a tutoring and mentoring program that serves students in two housing projects in Mission Hill.

“I got divorced, so now I’m getting revenge,” Pena said, with her face covered in white and black paint.

Another girl, who wished to be identified only as Michael Jackson, claimed to have trick-or-treated at Harvard for the last 40 years. How old is she? “50, of course.” Her favorite song? “I like all of them. But especially ‘The Way You Make Me Feel.’”

The trick-or-treaters—50 Mission Hill After School students ranging in age from 5 to 14—knocked on the doors of Harvard’s dorms in the program’s annual Halloween sleepover night.


“The holiday really lends itself to having fun with kids,” said Amanda F. Guardado ’10, one of the heads of the Mission Hill After School program. “It would be a crime not to do anything.”

Through Mission Hill After School, Chinatown After School, and Boston Refugee Youth Enrichment (BRYE), the Phillips Brooks House Association brings more than 150 young students to trick-or-treat at the end of October.

The children’s annual presence on campus is one of the few lasting Halloween traditions at Harvard, and brings the students’ youthful spirit door-to-door every year.


PBHA-sponsored trick-or-treating events allow undergraduate mentors to relive childhood Halloween memories, and to provide their students with an opportunity to celebrate the holiday in a welcoming environment.

Chinatown After School hosted 47 kids last Saturday to trick-or-treat in first-year dorms in the yard.

Chinatown After School set up a carnival in Currier House, complete with games, face-painting, and pumpkin carving.

BRYE also had a trick-or-treating event during the day on Halloween for the students in the program.

At the first stop on Mission Hill’s trick-or-treating tour, kids scrambled up the stairs, racing to be the first at the door.

But as soon as they knocked and the doors opened, they fell silent, suddenly nervous to be face-to-face with a college student. “Trick-or-treat?” they offered quietly, with wide eyes.