Trick-or-treating may look a little different during a pandemic, but the Halloween celebrations will go on.
Parks, museums and most of the usual event organizers will make sure of it. Some activities, like Halloween parades in Edwardsville and Alton, were canceled, but other clever planners have adapted.
Six Flags St. Louis is offering HALLOWFEST, a socially distanced alternative to the theme park’s popular Fright Fest, which usually involves indoor haunted houses and close encounters with spooky creatures.
“It was a lot of thinking and talking and planning,” says spokeswoman Elizabeth Gotway, “but at the end of the day, people love Halloween in the park, so we had to find a way to do something for them.”
All haunted attractions and shows will be moved outdoors, and the “freaks” that usually sneak up and scare guests will be stationed behind picket fences for “freak encounters.” Storytime trails with socially distant treat chutes will replace traditional gatherings for children.
Costumes were remade using materials that can be laundered daily instead of dry cleaned weekly, and masks and makeup were altered so performers can also wear protective masks.
Grant’s Farm in south St. Louis County didn’t open at all this year for its regular season. Park employees used the extra time to plant trees, make repairs, add structures such as wildlife viewing stands, and revamp buildings for behind-the-scenes tours that visitors hopefully can enjoy in 2021.
As summer dragged on, the grounds were also transformed into a drive-thru Halloween experience, complete with dragons in the goat yard, a crashed UFO in the deer park, and glowing trees, pumpkins and campfires throughout. Tickets sold out before the attraction opened last week, but there is a waitlist.
This is the first time since the property’s public opening in 1954 that guests have been able to drive through the deer park area.
“This is community outreach for us,” says Jeff Knapper, director of heritage for Anheuser-Busch InBev, which operates the attraction. “The farm is a community gem. We’ve heard from our people and our guests and our friends that they want to come. This is an opportunity for Anheuser-Busch to say, ‘Here’s a great experience for you guys.’ We’re going to do this the right way, in a safe way, in a high-quality way and get all the St. Louis community back together for Halloween.”
City Museum usually invites guests to visit on Nov. 1 and toss pumpkins from the roof into a dumpster below. This year, the pumpkin pitch will be available for three days, as well as trick-or-treating on Halloween at candy chutes placed throughout the museum.
“People need to break stuff right now,” says City Museum director Rick Erwin. “And they can do that with pumpkins.”
Erwin says he felt the staff needed the celebration to go on as much as the guests did.
“The museum is not the same right now — it’s not,” he says. “If I can bring back throwing pumpkins off the roof, then we know the museum has not lost its way.”
Indeed, the dumpster will be labeled “2020.”