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Trick or Treat on the River - Pirates Handing Out Candy from a Boat

Trick or Treat on the River Returns for 2022

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Trick or Treat on the River is returning for 2022 after a 2 year hiatus! I was thrilled to see a call out for volunteers to staff the event today (more below).

For years, Trick or Treat on the River was on my Halloween bucket list, but it never seemed to work out. We finally made it to the event in 2019. My daughter has been looking forward to returning since 2019 especially since receiving an inflatable kayak for Christmas 2019. She was thrilled this morning when I told her it was back.


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About Trick or Treat on the River

Trick or Treat on the River is an annual event by Ann Arbor Parks & Recreation and Give 365. Head out on the river in a boat and stop at a series of trick or treat stops. Treat stops are along the banks, under bridges, and even other boats. There are also on-shore activities at the canoe livery. These included games, a s’mores station, and more.

Trick or Treat on the River is typically on a Sunday afternoon in mid-October. Currently, they are recruiting volunteers for October 16 from 11a-6p. The event will run from noon-5p. The last boat leaves at 3p, so be sure to arrive in plenty of time in case there is a line.

Parking can be full at Gallup Park with an event, but overflow parking is available across the street at Huron High School.

Trick or Treat on the River - Pirates Handing Out Candy from a Boat
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Our Trick or Treat on the River Experience

My daughter and I loved Trick or Treat on the River. We always enjoy kayaking, so the trick or treat was an added bonus. With trick or treating we decided a double kayak would be more fun than two singles (and less expensive).

It took us about 45 minutes to hit all of the trick or treat stations. You can stay out for 2 hours.

After our time on the river, we stopped to make s’mores. They provided all of the supplies. My daughter toasted both of our marshmallows and then they made the s’mores for us.

Trick or Treat on the River - S'mores - Grilling Marshmallow

There were also games on the grass between the livery and the dock. There was cornhole, bean bag toss, ring toss, and even a slimy eyeball toss game.

Trick or Treat on the River - Witch Pitch

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Weather Issues

It was very windy during Trick or Treat on the River 2019, so they limited rentals to canoes and kayaks. We definitely noticed the wind being an issue with navigating our kayak in certain parts of the river.

Temperatures were in the 60s. We were comfortable in long sleeve shirts. We did feel cold splashes from the oars especially after a gust of wind.

Treat Stations

There were a number of treat stations. Treats were available from the livery east to the Huron River Bridge and west to parts of The Arb. There were candy stations on boats, under the Huron River bridge, and along the banks.

My favorite treat station was from a bridge. The candy was attached to fishing line with clothespins and lowered to the boat.

Trick or Treat on the River - Lowering Candy on Fishing LIne


Wait Times

With commitments earlier in the day, we did not arrive until 1:50p. The wait to rent a boat was about 30 minutes. After leaving the desk and getting our life jackets and oars, we waited just a couple of minutes for a double kayak. Note, the rental line was even longer when we left at 3:45p.

While in line, my teen daughter and I took turns using the restroom. She also explored the land based games while I was in line. If you have younger children, one parent could keep the kids entertained at the games or playground until you get near the front of the line. All adults will need to be there to sign the waiver.

Tips for Trick or Treat on the River

1 – Costumes & What to Wear

Costumes are encouraged, but select costumes with care. A life jacket needs to fit over the costume. Also, be prepared that it may get splashed. I decided to leave my witches hat in the car because it tends to blow off in the wind.

Make sure to dress for the weather. We also wore old shoes in case of getting wet. Most of our kayaking has included the Argo Cascades, so we are used to getting wet.


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2 – What to Bring

Bring a treat bag or container. Plastic pumpkins were very popular and a good choice on the river.

When renting your boat, you will need to leave an ID or your keys. I recommend leaving the keys for two reasons. First, you don’t have to worry about them getting wet in the river. Secondly, you won’t leave without them. I forgot to pickup my ID on Huron River Day and had to return to pick it up.

3 – Costs

Boat rental is $20/boat. They accepted cash or credit cards.

All other activities were free. The trick or treat on the river is also free if you bring your own boat.

4 – Boat Logistics

My daughter and I decided to use a double kayak instead of two singles. We thought it would be more fun to be together – plus it was cheaper. A Canoe is a good choice for families to stay together or accommodate multiple children with an adult.

Trick or Treat on the River - Selfie

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5 – Timing

Trick or Treat on the River was from noon-5p.

We arrived around 2p and were there for about 2 hours. It took us about 30 minutes to wait in line for our boat. The river route took us about 45 minutes. Then it was another 30 minutes for s’mores and to check out the games. My daughter is older, so she only briefly explored the games. Younger kids may spend more time playing the games.

6 – Food Allergies

Food is a major component of Trick or Treat on the River. This can be an issue for children who have food allergies. The s’mores have Graham Crackers, Chocolate Bars, and Marshmallows which can all cause issues for those with food allergies or vegetarians. Some of the treats handed out at the stations were relatively safe like a juice box, while others were not like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

Volunteer for Trick or Treat on the River

Ann Arbor Parks and Give365 are currently recruiting volunteers for Trick or Treat on the River. You can sign up for a variety of roles including costumed characters handing out candy, running games, or even cleanup. Sign up now.

Trick or Treat on the River - Swamp Monster

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