LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- The calendar, weather and a growing trend sent a lot of people to parking lots two nights before Halloween this year.

There was no shortage of stops if you took a tour of the many trunk or treat parties across the area. Whether it’s any excuse to have a party, any excuse to get more than one night in a costume, or any excuse to get more candy, the reasons pile up for why the gatherings are everywhere you look this year.

Ask the young people at these events and you hear “Halloween is awesome,” and “We are having a fun time.” Parents and other grown-ups have their own reasons for admiring the concept.

The idea is to invite people to gather in parking lots, open up the trunk or tailgate, and have some Halloween fun. Churches and community organizations love them.

“It's just a great way to be able to get out, and Halloween's a fun holiday,” said Rev. Brock Patterson, the pastor at Faithspring Church in west Little Rock. “I know it's different for a lot of folks and some folks have different opinions about it, but we love to be able to embrace it and enjoy it.”

He greeted everyone at his church’s Halloween carnival while dressed as Austin Powers.

The layout made it easy for young children to go from trunk to trunk without parents having to do a lot of heavy lifting in a bulky costume.

“For parents who are going to be using their costumes on Tuesday night, this is a great opportunity,” Rev. Patterson said. “C'mon in. Use it again. Everything's free so you can't beat it.”

The other big reason to trunk-or-treat we heard from grown-ups at every stop: safety.

“You don't know in some neighborhoods what you're going to get putting stuff in candy years ago,” said Lydell Harris at North View Missionary Baptist Church in North Little Rock.

He had a undersea theme in his SUV complete with a scale-model of the Titanic.

“It's a safe time. You know you're pretty much safe at the church. I still recommend to check your candy,” said Lt. Michael Ford of the Little Rock Police Dept.

“It’s safety but also something more,” said Shirley Miller as she sat near her trunk at Levy United Methodist Church in North Little Rock. “It gives the folks at the church a chance to meet with the community who might not go here.”

Ask the kids, and most just want a another night of loading up on candy. They aren’t ready to trade Halloween night for a contained night in a parking lot, but the adults already see a shift.

“We've seen a great decrease in the numbers of trick or treaters over the years,” Rev. Patterson said. “So, yes, this absolutely you could see this being some sort of replacement.”

On the other hand:

“Nothing could ever replace old-fashioned trick-or-treating,” said Pavora Robinson as a party put on by minority small-business owners wrapped up. “The door-knocking and seeing the little kids in their costumes, my family is going to be right back out there.”