Draper Family Keeps Halloween Safe For Kids With Allergies With Teal Pumpkin Project

Oct 29, 2019, 11:07 PM | Updated: Feb 13, 2023, 1:22 pm

DRAPER, Utah — With Halloween just around the corner, it’s time to stock up on candy for trick-or-treaters. One Draper mother is reminding people to also include non-food treats on their shopping list for kids with allergies.

Eight-year-old Tessa Cotterell is dressing up as Disney’s Jasmine this year. She is wearing the character’s traditional teal costume.

“They just love trick-or-treating, and going out, and spending time with their friends,” said her mother Courtnie Cotterell.

Eight-year-old Tessa Cotterell is dressing up as Disney’s Jasmine this year.

Teal seems to be a theme in the Cotterell household this time of year. They also place a teal pumpkin on their porch every October — and it’s not just for looks.

It is part of a national effort called the Teal Pumpkin Project. Instead of handing out only candy to trick-or-treaters, the Cotterells also hand out fun non-food items to accommodate kids with dietary restrictions.

“So, then kids with allergies know where they can go trick-or-treat and be safe,” Cotterell said.

The Cotterell family places a teal pumpkin on their porch each year to let trick-or-treaters know they pass out nonfood items for kids with food allergies.

They typically pass out little trinkets and toys like glow sticks, pencils, erasers and festive stickers. She said kids are always excited to walk away with something special.

Tessa was diagnosed with a severe peanut allergy when she was just 13 months old. Since then, she’s always had to be super careful about what she eats.

“She has to take precautions everywhere she goes. We always have to be reading labels to see where the food is manufactured (and) if it’s cross-contaminated with anything,” Cotterell said. “She could go into anaphylaxis, and so it’s really scary.”

This often makes Halloween a difficult holiday, “because sometimes you don’t get to eat anything that everyone else gets to eat,” Tessa said.

“I think one of the hardest things for me, as a mom … was sending her as a 4-year-old up to the door, and saying ‘Trick-or-treat!’, and then coming back empty-handed,” Cotterell said. “It’s heartbreaking!”

Courtnie Cotterell passes out festive nonfood items like pencils, erasers, and stickers for kids who have food allergies.

Intermountain Healthcare’s Dr. Libby Kelly, an allergist at the Holladay Clinic, encourages all parents to be familiar with the symptoms of an allergic reaction. She said symptoms often include “hives, swelling of the eyelids or lips, trouble breathing, coughing, vomiting (and) diarrhea.”

Kelly said the onset can happen immediately. “It’s usually within an hour or so,” she said.

For Tessa, it’s more serious. She carries an EpiPen everywhere she goes. If she comes in contact with any trace of peanut, she has to get to the hospital within 10 minutes.

Kelly said food allergies are different from food sensitivities, which usually just cause a bellyache, and need to be handled much more seriously.

Cotterell wanted to remind parents that every allergy is different and the severity also varies.

“Some of the trickiest moments we’ve had are when Tessa, as a child, is being told by an adult, ‘This food is safe for you,’ when it’s not,” she said.

The family is cautious to avoid cross-contamination. “Halloween gets really scary because you stick all these types of candies in a bag, and then you touch it (the candy) to open it and eat it,” Cotterell said.

That’s why Cotterell is extra grateful when friends go out of their way to hand out things Tessa can enjoy.

The Cotterell kids are ready to trick or treat on Halloween this year. (Courtesy Courtnie Cotterell)

“It means a ton,” she said.

If you are interested in participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project, you can list your house on the online map so trick-or-treaters can find you. Cotterell suggests keeping candy and toys in separate bowls so kids have an option when they come to the door.

KSL 5 TV Live

Your Life Your Health

On the one-year anniversary of his heart attack, Morgan Daines and Dr. O'Neal rode up Wolf Creek Pa...

Emma Benson

Don’t wait: heart attack rapid response saves life of Utah dad

If you or a loved one were to experience a heart attack, time becomes a matter of life or death. KSL's Emma Benson shows us how a collaborative program at Intermountain Medical Center saved the life of an otherwise healthy patient.

5 days ago

Holiday dinner...

Emma Benson

Food prep tips to prepare that Thanksgiving feast safely

It's almost time to gobble up that delicious, long-awaited meal. Before you throw that turkey in the oven, there are some things you need to know. 

14 days ago

Therapist talks to dancer...

Emma Benson

Dancers always aware of potential for injuries

It's an art form and a sport that’s beautiful to watch. But dance doesn’t come without risk of injury.  

19 days ago

Debra Eaton rolling out in a wheelchair after having her surgery....

Emma Benson

Davis County woman who nearly lost foot urges other diabetics to monitor health

A 7th-grade teacher is hoping her experience of almost losing her leg to diabetes will urge others to take care of their health.

26 days ago

(KSL TV)...

Dan Rascon

A newborn screening test could be all difference between life and death

A newborn screening test in Utah could be the difference between life and death.

1 month ago

K9 Lifeline in Draper (KSL TV)...

Ken Fall

Have you taken the time off you deserve? Your healthy self wants you to

Each year nearly half of American workers don't take all their paid time off. And that's generally not a good idea.

1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Design mockup half in white and half in color of luxury house interior with open plan living room a...

Lighting Design

Lighting Design 101: Learn the Basics

These lighting design basics will help you when designing your home, so you can meet both practical and aesthetic needs.

an antler with large horns int he wilderness...

Three Bear Lodge

Yellowstone in the Fall: A Wildlife Spectacle Worth Witnessing

While most people travel to this park in the summer, late fall in Yellowstone provides a wealth of highlights to make a memorable experience.

a diverse group of students raising their hands in a classroom...

Little Orchard Preschool

6 Benefits of Preschool for Kids

Some of the benefits of preschool for kids include developing independence, curiosity, and learning more about the world.

Draper Family Keeps Halloween Safe For Kids With Allergies With Teal Pumpkin Project