Marshmallows with the Murphys brings many

Dorchester Banner/Bob Zimberoff Earl and Michelle Murphy hosted their 10th annual Marshmallows with the Murphys on Halloween night at their home on Woodsedge Drive in Hurlock, co-sponsored by the Murphys' church, Grace Baptist. The event featured a hayride around the Murphys' neighborhood, hot dogs, s'mores, popcorn, Halloween games, hot chocolate and more.

Dorchester Banner/Bob Zimberoff
Earl and Michelle Murphy hosted their 10th annual Marshmallows with the Murphys on Halloween night at their home on Woodsedge Drive in Hurlock, co-sponsored by the Murphys’ church, Grace Baptist. The event featured a hayride around the Murphys’ neighborhood, hot dogs, s’mores, popcorn, Halloween games, hot chocolate and more.

HURLOCK — It seemed like every costumed kid in Hurlock spent Halloween night at Marshmallows with the Murphys at the corner of Woodsedge Drive and Miles Circle.

If all the trick-or-treaters in town didn’t show, certainly most of them did. Many families came from the surrounding area including East New Market, Secretary, Federalsburg, Preston and Bethlehem.

Hurlock Town Councilman Earl Murphy and his wife Michelle Murphy have hosted their come-one, come-all event for 10 years. Including this year, roughly 1,000 people have visited the Murphys’ home for each of the past four years. This time, partly for insurance purposes, the Murphys’ church, Grace Baptist, sponsored the event.

In 2015, the Murphys prepared 600 hot dogs and ran out by the end of the night. This year, they had another 600 dogs ready to serve. More than 15 volunteers helped set up and serve treats from folding tables including freshly popped popcorn, Halloween games, s’mores, ghostly lollipops, hot chocolate, and the very popular hot dogs.

Dorchester Banner/Bob Zimberoff Michelle Murphy, in the black sweater, greets trick-or-treaters on Halloween night at her home during her community get-together, Marshmallows with the Murphys.

Dorchester Banner/Bob Zimberoff
Michelle Murphy, in the black sweater, greets trick-or-treaters on Halloween night at her home during her community get-together, Marshmallows with the Murphys.

“People are looking for a safe place to bring their kids, so that’s what we’re here for,” Mrs. Murphy said Halloween night. “I want them here, even the older kids. I don’t care how old you are. As long as you’re out here behaving, you’re more than welcome to join us. I’d rather you be here than somewhere else.”

A steady stream of guests made their way through the rows of tables in the backyard and sat down for a while, either before or after trick-or-treating. The young man in the family, Christian Murphy, a senior at North Dorchester High School, sat in a pickup truck in the front driveway and gave out candy with a smile.

Dorchester Banner/Bob Zimberoff From left, Arielle Murphy of Preston and Shante McAllister of Federalsburg were among the many volunteers Halloween night at Marshmallows with the Murphys in Hurlock.

Dorchester Banner/Bob Zimberoff
From left, Arielle Murphy of Preston and Shante McAllister of Federalsburg were among the many volunteers Halloween night at Marshmallows with the Murphys in Hurlock.

Mr. Earl Murphy spent the night keeping the hayride around the development running smoothly. He sat on a trailer behind an old, well kept John Deere tractor piloted by Mike Smith. Mr. Smith lives just down the road on Dorchester Avenue in Hurlock.

“It’s nice that the kids understand that Marshmallows with the Murphys is a fun place to come,” Mr. Murphy said Tuesday. “We had a lot of fun last night.”

There was a strong but friendly presence from Hurlock Police Department and Dorchester County Sheriff’s officers in cars, SUVs, on bicycle and foot. Some of the police gave out candy. Many of the officers smiled and laughed along with the children who showed off their costumes.

Quite a few of the adults took time to speak with the officers and thank them for keeping the neighborhood safe for the special night. The police were welcome to all the treats the Murphys had to offer, even during an after-party with more goodies and a warm meal for volunteers and neighbors.

In a Facebook post later Halloween night, Amberlin Rosado of Hurlock thanked the Murphys for their hospitality and the police for their presence.

“With all the crazy going on these days, I almost didn’t take my son trick or treating. … Hurlock PD was everywhere. On foot, on bikes, in cars, They were polite, playful and attentive and were even handing out candy,” Ms. Rosado posted on Facebook. “S/O (shout out) to Mr. Murphy for being so kind and being hands and feet, and hosting every single family with hot chocolate, hot dogs, games, pop corn and s’mores, good positive music, and the fun hay ride we look forward to every year. As well as the many other families that had fires burning for warmth and were genuinely happy to give out candy and a smile. THIS is what COMMUNITY should look like and be.”

According to both Mr. and Mrs. Murphy, the idea to host Marshmallows with the Murphys came somewhat spontaneously in 2005. The Murphys moved to the brand-new development in Hurlock and invited friends in the community over for hot dogs and marshmallows on Halloween night.

“Being a new development, we knew we were going to get hit hard,” by trick or treaters in 2005, Mr. Murphy said. “We gave out popcorn balls, ran out, switched to cookies, ran out.”

So the Murphys turned off their porch light and started the party with their neighbors in the backyard. In 2005, they didn’t have a fence and some children came around back. Since the Murphys were out of sweets, they offered the trick-or-treaters hot dogs and hospitality. By 2006, working with their neighbors, the Murphys introduced the hayride, and thus began Marshmallows with the Murphys. The Halloween in Hurlock event has grown and grown ever since.

Mrs. Murphy, as a former kindergarten teacher at Hurlock Elementary School and current pre-school teacher at Preston Fundamentals, said that she has seen many toddlers and kindergarteners grow into high schoolers and young adults. Each year, she gets to see them grow over s’mores, hot dogs and hot chocolate.

This year, Mr. Murphy didn’t get to bed until 1:15 a.m. the next morning. After helping to break down the backyard, he strolled around the neighborhood and picked up trash.

“I just wanted to make sure that when the neighbors woke up in the morning, they didn’t have a bad feeling about the night before,” he said Tuesday while already thinking ahead. “I’m looking forward to next year. It’s one of those traditions that we want to present every year, God willing.”

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