All around the United States, Halloween 2020 will undoubtedly look very different from years past. The holiday that typically includes clusters of children meeting lots of new people for candy has now had to be reimagined to ensure everyone’s safety. We checked with three Indianapolis organizations to see how this transition process has been—and what their plans for a safe Halloween entail.
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
Usually the month of October at the Children’s Museum is packed with visitors waiting for their chance to wind their way through the Haunted House, put on annually by the Children’s Museum Guild. It’s a huge fundraiser for the museum and in a regular year, it’s surrounded by many ancillary events geared for kids of different ages. Since its inception, the Haunted House has raised more than $12.7 million.
Obviously, in 2020 things had to change. So while the Haunted House as it has come to be known (and loved) is on hold this year, the women of the Guild have come up with some new ways to celebrate.
On Friday nights and Saturday mornings in October, the Guild and the Children’s Museum will host Monster MASKarade, an outdoor event at the Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience space. The event is being held outdoors (and with limited numbers of guests) to ensure social distancing and the entire space will be covered in Halloween decorations, including decor from Haunted Houses past.
Event highlights will include broomstick battles, a mummy yoga dance activity, candy dash musical chairs, a costume parade, and a virtual mask and costume contest. Breakfast or dinner is also included in this ticketed event, depending on the time of day. (It should be noted that this special event does not include admission to the museum.)
To ensure guest safety, costumes are encouraged and face coverings are required. The outdoor area also has stickers on surfaces to help guests social distance and hand sanitizer will be readily available. Additionally for the children’s activities, event co-chair Jennifer Triplett said props will be used to promote social distancing. For example, instead of touching others to play tag in the Monster Mash Candy Dash, kids can use a pool noodle.
“We had to really think outside the box this year because this would have been the 57th annual Haunted House,” Triplett said. “This pushed us to make some changes that we will probably implement going forward for future years.”
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The Indianapolis Zoo will be hosting the annual ZooBoo from Oct. 7 – Nov. 9 on Wednesdays through Sundays. This year’s festival includes various Halloween-themed programming all centered around a Pumpkin Town village. In Pumpkin Town, there will be science demonstrations, dance parties, a trick-or-treat trail, and a mystery hay bale maze. Guests can also enjoy the Halloween decor and witches cauldrons scattered throughout the Zoo. The zoo animals are also more active in mild fall weather, and several exhibits are open until 9 p.m. on weekends.
To ensure guest’s safety, organizers will be limiting guest capacity in Pumpkin Town and using tickets with timed entries. Additionally, while costumes for kiddos under 12 are encouraged, masks are required in Pumpkin Town and along the Trick-or-Treat trail. Indianapolis Zoo Conservation spokeswoman Melanie Laurendine, said the Zoo has also worked to remove high touchpoint areas for the event.
“These are certainly unprecedented times,” Laurendine told us. “Our teams have faced challenges with creativity and been able to plan an event that will be fun, memorable, and most importantly, keep our guests and staff safe and healthy.”
For adults looking to participate in the festive fun, the Zoo is hosting Brewfari on Oct. 3 from 7-11 p.m. This 21-and-up ticketed event will feature drinks from local breweries and a costume contest. During the ZooBoo, there will also be a daily adults-only trick-or-treat trail from 7-9 p.m.
This October, Conner Prairie will be hosting the 37th annual Headless Horseman festival. The event will feature various activities, including socially-distanced hayrides, tubing, storytelling, a corn maze, and a section of socially-distanced games like a cauldron toss. Additionally, there will be outdoor theatrical and marionette shows.
Conner Prairie has also implemented several health and safety precautions. For starters, guests will receive their own bag of individual equipment to play the outdoor games with. Masks must be worn, and all activities have been rethought to ensure social distancing. Hand sanitizer will also be available. Christine Dejoy, director of public affairs for Conner Prairie, said there is no better way to enjoy the fall season than experiencing this fall tradition.
“This year we had to make revisions to festival staples, but we think the outcome will leave our guests happily satisfied with some of our changes,” Dejoy said.
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Meghan Stratton is an Indy Maven intern and the editor-in-chief of Butler University’s school newspaper, The Collegian.