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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Keeping Halloween spooky, not scary

 Big Halloween gatherings are discouraged due to COVID-19. Outdoor activities like pumpkin carving may be a safer activity for people to stay in the spirit of Halloween. Photo by Brendan Prior.

Alternate celebrations emerge from COVID restrictions.

By Brendan Prior

Trick-or-treating. Costume parties. Haunted houses. With Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines in place,  Halloween traditions may not be safe this year, so how can people in Bellingham stay spooky despite the scary circumstances? Local businesses and nonprofits have options to get people excited for the season.

Downtown Trick-or-Treasure is Bellingham’s alternative plan for trick-or-treating this year. Annette Bagley, director of marketing for Bellingham Tourism, described the event as a scavenger hunt that involves searching for clues in downtown shops. Participants can take a selfie in front of the clues and if they find all the clues in shop windows, they will receive a goody bag. The agency is also gathering ideas for families that want to avoid crowds. 

“Utilize virtual events and try to do things within your own household,” Bagley said. “I’ve heard that parents are encouraged to hide trick-or-treat prizes throughout their house and do their own scavenger hunt with their kids at home.”

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Llyra Roe, a second-year Western student, loves Halloween, but is not entirely comfortable with participating in events like Trick-or-Treasure this year. 

“I plan to go to a pumpkin patch, but that’s pretty much it,” Roe said. “Keeping the spread of COVID to a minimum is a huge priority to me, so my Halloween season will be spent at home watching scary movies with my cat.”

While she won’t be participating in Halloween events, Roe said she doesn’t think there is anything wrong with others going out if they follow safety precautions, such as wearing a mask, maintaining proper distance and limiting group size. 

“I think the past nine months have been really tough on a lot of people, and if they want to enjoy some sort of in-person event with proper rules in place, then that’s OK with me,” Roe said. “While I do think that household or virtual events are the safest way to have fun, I think that people also deserve to do something that brings them joy. Goodness knows everyone needs some joy these days.”

Kolby Labree, owner and operator of Bellinghistory Tours with The Good Time Girls, said Halloween is the busiest time of the year for The Good Time Girls. This is partially due in part to their signature “Gore and Lore” tour, which is dedicated to ghost stories, true crime and generally spookier tales than what the touring company usually tells. This year, the company has been limiting its tours to private groups for one household and semi-private groups for two socially distanced parties.

The Good Time Girls are also looking into other ways to spread their business throughout Bellingham, such as a podcast and virtual events in the winter.

“Through the Parks Department, we have a couple of virtual events coming up,” Labree said. “One is a virtual tour of the cemetery and the history behind it. Another one is a spin-off of our ‘Gore and Lore’ tours; we’re going to do a live ‘Gore and Lore’ of the Chuckanut area.”

Other events include “Escape from Old City Hall,” a virtual escape room organized by the Whatcom Museum, where players can partake in online activities to learn more about the old City Hall building. Bagley also suggested going to a pumpkin farm as a simple and fun Halloween activity. Bellewood Farms and Distillery is open for the season, as are Cloud Mountain Farm Center, Stoney Ridge and Cramer’s Western Town.

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