Brittney Lofthouse – Staff Writer

One in 13 children is dealing with a food allergy, and that can take a lot of the joy out of Halloween. With Halloween just a little more than two weeks away, Safe Kids Macon County is launching the second annual Teal Pumpkin Project in partnership with Franklin businesses. Teal-colored pumpkins or signs with teal pumpkins are appearing in more storefronts this year as part of a national effort to make the holiday safe for children with food allergies. It just takes one simple act: offering non-food treats, such as glow sticks or small toys, as an alternative to candy.

“We are fortunate to live in a town centered around community and inclusion,” said Safe Kids Macon County Coordinator Deputy Josh Stewart. “As soon as we presented businesses with the idea of creating a non-food trick or treating option for children with food sensitivities last year, businesses owners really stepped up. This year, we doubled the number of businesses who signed on to participate. Safe Kids is geared around keeping children safe, and having this option in our community a great way to do that.”

More than two dozen Main Street businesses and organizations have committed to providing non-candy treats for trick or treaters on Monday, Oct. 31, from 3:30 to 5;30 p.m. (some businesses may close at 5 p.m. Safe Kids Macon County will be providing the non-candy treats to all businesses to hand out.

Participating businesses will have a sign in the store front displaying a teal pumpkin, making the public aware they are a safe stop for treats. Businesses dedicated to going teal on Halloween are: Blush.NC​, Diva’s On Main​, CurtisTV-Radioshack​, Smoky Mountain Bicycles​, Blackberry Market Boutique & Gifts​, Mossy Rock​, Motor Company Grill​, Crabtree General Store & Coffee Vault​, Books Unlimited​ (kid’s store), Root + Barrel​, Macon County News​, Main Street Coffee & Yogurt​, Macon County Sheriff’s Office​ (Annex building next to DMV), Franklin Police Department, Macon Rental Co.​, Outdoor 76​, Brown Dog Tees​, Lazy Hiker Brewing Co.​, Ruby City Gems and Minerals​, The Gilded Willow, The Gem & Mineral Society and Museum​, NC Mountain Made​, Wells Fargo (Main Street location), Town of Franklin, Russell Bowling’s law office, and Coward, Hicks, and Siler law office.

The Teal Pumpkin Project was inspired by a awareness activity run by the Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee (FACET) and launched as a national campaign by FARE in 2014.

Homes in the Franklin community participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project will have a teal pumpkin in front of their homes to let parents know they have non-candy treats available as well.