COVID-19 has put an end to a lot of annual festivities in 2020, but the City of Santa Clara didn’t want it to stop Halloween. To make sure that didn’t happen, the City added some social distancing twists to this year’s events.
“In years past, we ran a pretty large Halloween party at the Youth Activity Center for the community and we wanted to be able to provide Halloween fun for the residents that was COVID friendly,” said Kim Castro, Santa Clara’s Recreation Manager. “We spent some time and energy brainstorming what was possible and what we could do, and we came up with a bunch of cool ideas this year. It’s been really exciting to roll them out through the course of the month and see how the community has responded to it.”
Instead of the annual Halloween party, the City debuted a Halloween video online. The Monster Mask-Querade Dance Party was designed to get kids in the Halloween spirit. It was just one of series of ideas the City rolled out in October.
The “Let’s Get Witch-Crafty” Halloween art kits sold out almost immediately and the City’s first pumpkin decorating contest received plenty of entries. There were also “You’ve Been Treated” sightings throughout the City, with people dropping off Halloween gifts for friends and family.
“People have been having a lot of fun giving gifts to their neighbors and treating their neighbors,” said Castro. “It’s a nice way to bring a gift to a neighbor and pass on neighborhood spirit.”
The City also made sure the local seniors didn’t miss out.
“The seniors are getting a home decoration for their kitchen table in their lunch bags when they do the drive thru,” said Castro. “We’re just trying to provide a little bit of Halloween spirit for people at home, so it doesn’t seem like they’re missing out.”
To spread the Halloween spirit throughout Santa Clara even further, the annual home decorating contest was also in full swing. The winners say, they did things a little differently this year because of COVID-19.
“The first year was like a cemetery theme; the second year was like a zombie theme. Then this year, we went with something much more colorful because you know, 2020 is just so dreary,” said Alina Mitchell. “We decided to go with a witch theme with lots of colors and it’s been a hit. So yeah, we’re going to stick with this and just keep building on it.”
Mitchell and her husband Sidney won this year’s award in District 1 decorating award. Jerry Diego, who won the District 3 decorating award, says COVID-19 also affected his display.
“There’s a figure [in the 2007 movie Trick or Treat] called Sam and he is the kind of like the spirit of Halloween and he enforces the rules of Halloween,” said Diego, who likes to create stories for his Halloween displays. “Sam was here to save Halloween.”
Diego set up this year’s display so that people could socially distance. He says visitors were good about keeping a safe distance from one another and wearing masks.
On Halloween night, he didn’t hand out candy and he put up a sign that read, “No candy, but we’ll pay our debt next year.”