While trick or treating will be allowed in Hamilton, a number of local groups are taking an alternate approach to Halloween during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among them is the annual Kate Andrus Pumpkin Prowl, which will be presenting “Upside Down Halloween” to mark its 7th year.
Co-organizer Larry Pattison says “Upside Down Halloween” consists of two parts.
On Halloween night, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., he says there’s an online party with children’s entertainers, musicians and a DJ’d Halloween Dance Party, to be broadcasted live on Facebook, Twitter and Twitch.
The second part of their plan involves reverse trick-or-treating through which Hamilton families who register will get candy — food-safe sanitized and individually packaged — brought to their door by volunteers in costume.
Pattison says more than 200 children have already registered for candy bags.
During a normal year, Pumpkin Prowl would attract hundreds of kids to a neighbourhood park for a festival-style event, complete with bouncy castles, crafts and other activities.
In 2019, there were over 300 kids in attendance and more than 40 houses handing out candy during the event at Belview Park.
Physically distanced ghost walks are another option this year, with Hamilton’s medical officer of health urging adults not to gather for Halloween parties because of COVID-19.
Mark Leslie, the author of Haunted Hamilton: The Ghosts of Dundurn Castle and Other Steeltown Shivers, has created an audio-guided walking tour based on his research.
The tour starts at the historic — and allegedly haunted — Hamilton Armouries, ending at The Winking Judge on Augusta Street.
Leslie leveraged smartphone technology to create the opportunity, saying he “learned about the VoiceMap app last year” while doing research for another of his books.
He adds that the free app provides a recorded spoken commentary allowing people to take self-paced tours from virtual guides.
“People are looking to do eerie things,” Leslie says. Since we can’t gather in crowds and need to maintain a distance of two metres apart, he feels the guided walk option “fits quite nicely with the season, but also with the unfortunate pandemic that we’re dealing with.”
“It was hearing the stories, the history and the ghosts, that helped me fall in love with the city and I’m hoping that this can help other people fall in love with the city the same way I did,” he says.