Outdoor graduation parties with food trucks become trend in pandemic

Haley Quinn’s Food Truck.
Haley Quinn’s Food Truck. Photo credit Sean Burns.
By , KYW Newsradio

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — It’s graduation season and the parties are back, but with some new, mobile and outdoor trends.

As COVID-19 restrictions are lifting, Sean Burns is getting several calls a day with catering requests for his Haley Quinn’s Food Truck.

“A lot of our dates are filled unfortunately, but I’m recommending other trucks at this point. So we’re absolutely busy,” says Quinn.

Food trucks have exploded in popularity for graduation parties because they serve individual portions, rather than a self serve buffet.

Haley Quinn’s Food Truck.
Haley Quinn’s Food Truck. Photo credit Sean Burns

People are serving cupcakes or cookies instead of a cake, small bags of chips instead of a bowl and jarcuterie, which is charcuterie in a cup.

Most people are taking the party outdoors. That has kept Dana Orapallo busy, as many people turn to her party decor business Pom Poms and Paper to spruce up their outdoor event.

“It’s been such a rough year for so many of our kids, especially with school and graduations. They want to do things that will really make a statement,” says Orapallo, “like cover the tent in balloons so it’s so much fun when all the guests arrive or make those personalized centerpieces.”

A centerpiece created by Pom Poms and Paper.
A centerpiece created by Pom Poms and Paper. Photo credit Dana Orapallo

Pom Poms and Paper Co-Owner Laura Shaw said there’s a focus on keeping things fun while being mindful of spacing.

“Also getting creative with things like lawn games and things to do to occupy their guests if they are staying there,” says Shaw. "It still keeps people spread out but outside and entertained."

Burns said parties are taking on a whole new meaning.

Balloons at an outdoor party.
Balloons at an outdoor party. Photo credit Dana Orapallo

“As a society there’s so much more appreciation for what we lost," he said. "Now that it’s back, people are way more jubilant and have way more gratitude than they have in the past.”

Many food and dessert trucks in the region are nearly completely booked for graduation season. Tent, table, chair and game rentals are also difficult to find.

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