Halloween 2020

Beyond trick-or-treating

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The Whatcom County Health Department didn’t mince words in a recent press release urging community members to dial down their freak-day festivities in light of rising coronavirus cases here and throughout the United States—especially since numbers typically spike after a holiday.

“Pumpkin carving, decorating our homes, and wearing costumes are all great ways to celebrate Halloween,” they said. “But one thing we don’t want to bring into our celebration is COVID-19. Halloween will look different this year, and different can still be fun.”

Deeming traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating to be one of the highest-risk or “spooky” activities to engage in—along with Halloween parties and indoor haunted houses (which aren’t permitted this year under Governor Jay Inslee’s Safe Start measures anyway)—they offered up some alternate ideas for enjoying All Hallows’ Eve.

In the lower-risk lineup they mentioned meeting for socially distanced outdoor pumpkin carving with friends, decorating your living space, having a household Halloween movie night or hosting a virtual watch party, creating a candy scavenger hunt around your house, or hosting a virtual costume contest. Moderate-risk activities included visiting a pumpkin patch or apple orchard, having a small open-air costume parade, or hosting an outdoor Halloween movie night with local family or friends—all while maintaining social distance, wearing masks and following suggested safety measures, of course.

You’ll also want to follow those protocols if you join the Good Time Girls (http://www.bellinghistory.com) for one of their public Gore and Lore tours taking place at 5pm Thurs., Oct. 29 or Fri., Oct. 30 on the sidewalks of downtown Bellingham, and 3:30pm Sat., Oct. 31 in the Fairhaven district. While you’re listening to creepy tales focusing on the city’s underbelly—including unsettling hauntings, strange historical happenings and horrific true crimes—try not to get too freaked out. Costumed guides will have a microphone headset and speaker to facilitate hearing and keep tour-goers six feet apart, and masks will be a must.

For those who don’t want to hit the streets just yet, the tour guides will also be hosting Buried Belling-history virtual tours broadcasting live from Woodstock Farm at 7pm Wed., Oct. 28 and at 7pm Thurs., Oct. 29 at Bayview Cemetery. Each event is $10, will be hosted via Zoom and last about an hour, and include question-and-answer sessions focused on the spooky surroundings. If you’ve ever wanted to know about Bellingham’s only remaining cemetery or to discover more about some of the deceased residents at Bayview, this is your chance.

If all the events are full but you still want to scare up some fun, get a taste of what the tours offer by tuning into Bad Town, a collaboration between the Good Time Girls and the City of Subdued Podcast (http://www.citysubduedpodcast.com) with a mission to suss out the “darkest, the most oppressive, the spookiest and the baaaaadest parts” of Bellingham history. The most recent episode focused on Bad Bud Cox, a man who spent his life addicted and incarcerated in the late 1800s and early 1900s. You’ll hear about how he was tortured at the hands of the state, but also about how evil Bad Bud truly was.

In a similar spirit of the season, Whatcom Museum (http://www.whatcommuseum.org) is joining forces with Bellingham Parks and Recreation for a virtual Escape from Old City Hall. Through Halloween proper, individuals or groups can pay $5 to participate in the escape room adventure, which begins in the storied basement of the Old City Hall, and continues all the way up to the attic by solving puzzles and riddles until you make your great escape. But be careful while you uncover the many secrets the building holds, as all is not as it seems.

Whatcom Museum also participated in a Downtown Trick or Treasure. The no-touch scavenger hunt which ended Oct. 26 was designed for families with younger children. Those who registered (it was $5 for each participating child) put on their costumes, headed downtown, and followed the clues to find signs hanging in downtown business windows. After taking selfies with each sign and submitting them to Parks and Rec, completed entries qualified for a Treasure Goody Bag, which can be picked up at “treasure stations” from 3pm-5pm on Sat., Oct. 31.

In Concrete (http://www.concrete-wa.com), a drive-thru Trunk or Treat event taking place from 4pm-5pm Sat., Oct. 31 near Bear Square on Main Street will provide a safe way for families to celebrate Halloween while staying inside their vehicles. Costumes are encouraged, as are decorated cars. Social distancing, the wearing of masks and careful hand hygiene will be among the safety protocols.

Advance registration isn’t necessary, but it is for a Haunted Town Tour starting at 7pm that same night in downtown Concrete. The inaugural event will feature a drive-thru experience where guests will stay in their vehicles while still celebrating the “spirit” of the community. For $25 per vehicle, you’ll be traveling back in time to the early 1900s, when Concrete was a lawless village of loggers, mill-hands and cement-plant workers.

“Those people are long gone, dead and forgotten—or are they?” organizers say. “On some October nights, you can see evidence to the contrary. Welcome to our Nightmare on Main Street. Get ready to journey into a world of creepiness as you experience Concrete’s first haunted drive-thru.”

If you elude the ghosts, ghouls and zombies who might be lurking in Concrete’s town center, consider making your way to Ferndale to check out the results of the City of Frightdale Halloween Decorating Contest. Participants can travel around the city visiting all the fearsome locations on a Frightdale map (it will be live on Halloween at http://www.cityofferndale.org/Frightdale). Either find the houses and score them as you visit, or simply enjoy the scary sights.

The Ferndale Chamber of Commerce will also be taking part in Whatcom County Trip or Treat (http://www.whatcomtriportreat.com) happening from 3pm-7pm Fri., Oct. 30. Organizers say the socially distanced experience will allow parents to get the kids out of the house and into their cars for a drive around the county, with a list of participating “treat” stops in Birch Bay, Lynden, Everson, Maple Falls, Peaceful Valley, Bellingham, and beyond.

To keep health risks at a minimum, “Trip or Treat” has a few rules for both guests and treat-givers. Participants must remain in their vehicles, and only one collection bag/bucket will be allowed per car. The person responsible for receiving the sweets must be masked—“the spookier the better,” they say. Treat-givers must wear masks and have access to hand sanitizer, and some sort of hands-free tool must be used to give the out the sweets, whether it’s through a skeleton’s hand, a candy chute, tongs or a witch’s spoon.

Additionally, “Trip or Treat” will include a virtual costume contest on its Facebook event page. Post your best costume picture by 5pm that night with the hashtags #triportreat2020, #whatcomcostumecontest or #whatcomtriportreat, and judges will take a look at your submissions and announce winners later that night.

If you’re horrified by the increase of single-use plastics and other items that have escalated during the pandemic and want to do something completely different on Halloween weekend, consider joining RE Sources (http://www.re-sources.org) at any time through Nov. 1 to pick up trash as part of Make a Difference Day—which was officially Oct. 24, but for the purposes of this event is continuing through the end of the month.

A short video on RE Sources’ website explaining more about the event merges horror with humor. As a chilling soundtrack plays, a “trash monster” foils costumed do-gooders picking up detritus from local sidewalks by sneaking up behind them and distributing even more garbage. The volunteers vow not to let the monster get the best of them, and get back to cleaning the streets with supplies at the ready and a can-do attitude.

“Don’t let the trash monster in your neighborhood,” reads the silent-movie-style text in the video. “Head out solo, with your family, or with a small group of friends. Follow all COVID health and safety guidelines. Be sure to wear a face mask. Stay at least six feet away from those outside your household. Feel free to use grabbers or wear gloves. Don’t trespass on private property. Have a plan for your garbage and recycling after. Have fun! Stay safe.”

Track your filthy findings on the Clean Swell app as you help keep walkways and waterways trash-free, and you’ll have a chance at winning a prize. The real treat, however, is in knowing you’ll have done your part to help out the environment during a scary time in history.

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