Evan Turner, of Street, is shown in one of the many custom Halloween costumes -- this one the Mystery Machine from Scooby-Doo -- that his father, Jason Turner, has created to fit over his wheelchair. In October, Harford County government is sponsoring an inclusive Halloween event to design similar costumes for wheelchair-bound children.
Evan Turner, of Street, is shown in one of the many custom Halloween costumes -- this one the Mystery Machine from Scooby-Doo -- that his father, Jason Turner, has created to fit over his wheelchair. In October, Harford County government is sponsoring an inclusive Halloween event to design similar costumes for wheelchair-bound children.

Nine-year-old Evan Turner, of Street, lives with cerebral palsy and is wheelchair bound, but that has not prevented him from dressing up for Halloween and participating in holiday events, as his family has designed and constructed vehicle-based costumes that fit around his wheelchair.

“It’s a lot of work for a two-, three-hour event, but the memories that are made, you can’t replace that,” Evan’s father, Jason Turner, said Thursday.

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Turner said Evan, who has worn costumes designed to resemble a locomotive, fire engine, the Ghostbusters’ Ecto-1 vehicle and others, participates in “trunk-or-treat” events at his school and the school of his 12-year-old sister, Corrin, as well as an annual costume parade in Baltimore’s Hampden neighborhood. Evan has won top prizes during prior parades, according to his father.

Evan Turner, of Street, is shown in one of the many custom Halloween costumes -- this one the Ghostbusters' Ecto-1 -- his father, Jason Turner, has created to fit over his wheelchair. In October, Harford County government is sponsoring an inclusive Halloween event to design similar costumes for wheelchair-bound children.
Evan Turner, of Street, is shown in one of the many custom Halloween costumes -- this one the Ghostbusters' Ecto-1 -- his father, Jason Turner, has created to fit over his wheelchair. In October, Harford County government is sponsoring an inclusive Halloween event to design similar costumes for wheelchair-bound children. (Courtesy Jason)

Harford County children with disabilities who use wheelchairs, such as Evan, will have the opportunity to show off their Halloween costumes this fall, during the Wheelchair Costume Workshop and Inclusive Trick or Treat at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen.

“The Glassman Administration, their goal is for children of all abilities to feel included and get to do everything their peers do,” said Rachel Harbin, manager of the county’s Office of Disability Services, who is working with Turner and others to coordinate the costume workshop and trick-or-treat event.

“We’re basically taking what [Turner] does for his son and multiplying it, exponentially, for many children this year,” Harbin added.

The Harford County government is sponsoring the event in partnership with the Aberdeen IronBirds minor league baseball team and the nonprofit Harford Center, which supports adults with disabilities.

County officials are seeking sponsors and volunteers to build the costumes — designed with the children’s input — to specifications that fit around a wheelchair, as well as children to participate.

There will be two build days; the first is scheduled for noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 13 and the second for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19.

Registration is free, but space is limited, so children and their families should register online by Sept. 9. The website is http://www.harfordcountymd.gov/2737/Costume-Workshop. The event is just open to children who “use a wheelchair as their main form of mobility,” Harbin said.

People can register, also online, to volunteer or sponsor a table at the trick-or-treating through Oct. 13. One team of volunteers will create costume designs using ideas submitted by the children, and another will build the costumes at the stadium Oct. 13. The second day, Oct. 19, is meant for finishing construction, costume fittings and then the trick-or-treat, which is open to the community. Participants can invite friends, family and other community members, according to Harbin.

Local businesses, nonprofits and families have been sponsoring trick-or-treat tables. Anybody who has questions about the costume build or trick-or-treat can contact Harbin at raharbin@harfordcountymd.gov or 410-638-3373.

“Anyone who wants to dress up, hand out stickers or goodies to the public, let us know,” she said.

The idea to support the creation of costumes for children in wheelchairs came about as parents contacted county officials about the challenge of taking their children trick-or-treating in areas that don’t have wheelchair-accessible infrastructure, as well as finding costumes that fit the children.

Local officials decided to “make an unforgettable day for these kids, so they feel like they’re the most special instead of feeling left out of Halloween,” Harbin recalled.

She contacted administrators at John Archer School in Bel Air, which serves students with special needs. Principal Randy Geyer referred her to Jason Turner, whose family is well-known in the school for creating costumes that fit his son Evan’s wheelchair.

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“It’s a like a big anticipation between the school and family — what’s Evan going to be next year for Halloween?” Turner said.

Turner said he was inspired to create the costumes when Evan was around 4 years old, after a conversation with Evan’s teacher, Amy Mangold. Mangold, who was named Harford County Public Schools’ Teacher of the Year in 2017, works with children ages 3 to 6.

“She is definitely a gift to that school,” said Turner.

A fire engine made out of cardboard was the first costume for Evan, meant to honor his father’s service as a Baltimore City firefighter. Turner, who grew up in Hampden, is assigned to a firehouse in Baltimore’s Mount Washington neighborhood.

The vehicle-themed costumes are decorated with lights and devices that allow Evan to push a button and make sound effects such as recorded messages or songs.

“We [try] to make it as realistic and approachable as we can, so kids can interact and enjoy it,” Turner said.

Turner praised county leaders and supporters for working to put on an event that includes children in wheelchairs in Halloween fun.

“All they want is inclusion; they want to be part of what’s going on, and this gives them that opportunity,” he said. “When this event happens. it’s going to be something I think we haven’t really seen in a while, in terms of its benefit and its reward.”

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