The pumpkins are out, the skeletons are hanging, which means only one thing – it’s spooky season.
But costumes and decorations aren’t the only thing scaring people this year.
COVID-19 has many families concerned about letting their children go out trick or treating, as well as medical professionals urging households to think of alternative forms of celebrating Halloween.
WindReach Farm in Ashburn, a charity which provides farm accessibility and programs to individuals with special needs, is holding a Halloween drive-thru during the day on Oct. 30–31 as an alternative option for families hoping to celebrate the non-official holiday.
The farm holds Halloween events annually, with volunteers in costumes and staff manning different areas such as a lumberjack station and a graveyard.
The drive-thru event costs $20 per vehicle and takes about 30–45 minutes to complete. Families will be asked to remain in their vehicles.
Kelly Taylor, volunteer and operations manager at WindReach, says interest is strong with around 50 of the 150 tickets sold for Friday and almost all of the Saturday tickets sold with a little over a week until the event.
The farm had initially planned for three time slots at 2 p.m., 3 p.m., and 4 p.m. with 50 vehicles allowed for each hour.
However, with tickets for Halloween day already almost sold out, the farm has needed to make more times available.
“What we’ve done is realized the Saturday is quite popular so we’re adding in a 1 p.m. time as well so that will open up for 50 more vehicles,” says Taylor.
“When you do see four or five volunteers together, that’s probably a family, those are probably people who are in their bubbles. If they’re not in the bubbles they’ll also be wearing masks as well,” explains Taylor.
Farm staff and volunteers have also been thinking of different ways to safely hand out treats to families.
“We worked on how are we safely going to hand out treats whether it’s a little food item or, maybe a Halloween pencil or our stickers or something,” says Taylor. “So, we’re being creative and using things like a lacrosse stick to put the item in and then pass it to the car so that way we can still safely keep our distance from the people in the car.”
Like many places which rely on the community for revenue and support, WindReach farm has seen significant change in it’s daily schedule since the beginning of COVID-19.
“Everything’s different, even staffing-wise we’re working less hours than we normally would. Because of COVID and because we are a charity, you know we’re not having the income coming in the driveway through all of our programs and through special events, so our income is down a lot,” says Taylor.
With many of the farm’s programs running with significantly less numbers and some programs unable to run at all due to safety concerns, the revenue earned from the Halloween drive-thru will go to supporting the farm and animals.
“We don’t get any core government funding so most of our money comes from our programs, our fees for our programs, and our special events, so this special event will probably make more money than a typical Halloween event,” says Taylor.
“I think a lot of people I know in my neighbourhood aren’t too keen on letting the kids go trick or treating or wanting kids coming to their house trick or treating so it’s a nice option for families who don’t want to go out but still want to celebrate Halloween with their kids and have something fun to do.”
For information on how to purchase tickets visit, http://windreachfarm.org/events/