EAGAN, Minn. — Once Kirk Cousins opened the doors to Party City, the mad dash was on.
Dozens of kids headed to the costume section of the store, eager to become their favorite superhero or cartoon character for Halloween.
The Vikings quarterback purchased the costumes for the youth that are being assisted by People Serving People, a local shelter for families experiencing homelessness.
“It’s great to see their smiles light up, and hopefully we can give them a day they will remember for a long time,” Cousins said. “We really enjoy being able to use our platform as a football player in the NFL.
“Hopefully we can make a positive difference for people, especially here in the Twin Cities,” Cousins added. “It’s a joy. It’s a small thing we can do today.”
Cousins helped the youth select their costumes, offering encouragement and fist bumps when a one 7-year-old boy suddenly transformed into Captain America. His friend morphed into The Incredible Hulk.
Superheroes were a popular choice, as Spider-Man, Mr. Incredible and Wolverine were quickly roaming the aisles of the store. A handful of princesses, ninjas, a Catwoman and a SWAT officer also soon joined the group.
While the kids were surprised with the chance to select Halloween costumes, their big day didn’t end there.
Vikings QB Kirk Cousins and his wife, Julie, surprised children from People Serving People, the region’s largest and most comprehensive family-focused homeless shelter, with a surprise Halloween party. Cousins met the group at Party City in Eagan and helped the children choose their own costumes. They then headed to TCO Performance Center for a private trick-or-treating experience.
Everyone then headed to Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center for some trick-or-treating in the Vikings indoor practice facility.
Vikings staff members set up various spooky stations that included an obstacle course, pumpkin bowling and spot to meet Viktor the Viking.
Maioki Caldwell, 11, walked the field as a zombie cheerleader complete with fake blood on her face.
“I like cheerleaders,” Maioki said. “And I like candy.”
Tegan Lecheler, the Education Services Coordinator at People Serving People, said the group of roughly 50 kids was profoundly impacted by Cousins’ gifts.
“We didn’t get a ton of costumes donated this year, so I was kind of nervous about it,” Lecheler said. “So when I got a call from the Vikings that we could come here, it was so exciting.
“They are having the time of their lives right now,” Lecheler added. “They are the most deserving kids, too. I can’t think of a better group to do this with.”
While Cousins donned a Vikings jersey for the fun at Party City, he had changed into an adult Buzz Lightyear costume by the time the festivities began at TCOPC.
He was joined by a handful of his offensive linemen, all decked out in large versions of costumes. Pat Elflein and Brian O’Neill went as Mario and Luigi, respectively. Brett Jones was Mr. Incredible, Aviante Collins was Captain America, and Dakota Dozier dressed as Batman.
“When options are limited, you pick what you’ve got … size-wise,” Dozier said with a laugh. “But I definitely enjoyed the Batman films growing up.”
Dozier carried his 13-month-old son Dak, who was dressed as a cow.
“This is awesome,” Dozier said. “Anytime you can get out and hang out with kids, it kind of reminds you what it’s like to be a kid again.
“You see them running around and enjoying Halloween, they’re getting some candy and having fun,” Dozier added. “It would be awesome to do this as a kid.”
Cousins interacted with the group throughout the trick-or-treating, even taking time to throw some touchdown passes to the young people.
He was joined by his wife, Julie, and sons, Cooper (dressed as a skunk) and Turner (a deer).
Cousins said the fun-filled event brought back his own memories of dressing up for Halloween as a kid.
“Not to be cliché, but I remember being a football player a lot of years,” Cousins said. “A different team each year, a different jersey … but I’d go all out with the shoulder pads and the padded pants and the cleats. It was a lot of fun.”