Hallowe’en arrives on Saturday, and although present health restrictions encourage quiet celebrations, the Aurora Public Library and Pflag York Region are sashaying virtually right into the spirit of the things with HalloKween! Drag Storytime.
Hosted by Miss Eva Lasting, a mainstay of the Aurora Public Library’s (APL) in-person Drag Queen Story Hours, kids and grown-ups are encouraged to dress in their very best costumes as she leads songs, stories and a celebration of all things Hallowe’e between 2 and 2.30 p.m.
HalloKween! was developed by Pflag, in conjunction with the APL after Pflag President Tristan Coolman received an email from a parent encouraging the organization to come up with a fun event where kids could dress freely in the costumes of their choosing.
“It stemmed from a family with a son who wanted to dress as a princess,” explains Reccia Mandelcorn, Manager of Community Collaboration for the APL. “The family talked him out of it because they felt the school and his classmates might not be too accepting of the costume. They reached out to Tristan and he thought about having a Drag Storytime.”
Pflag had the idea, and APL had the experience of hosting three similar events in the past, and Eva Lasting pleased to join in from British Columbia.
“Miss Eva’s mandate is to celebrate who you are, but it is not just a performance: all events we have with them are family-friendly, they promote social justice and community development and literacy,” says Ms. Mandelcorn. “With Hallowe’en this year, with Public Health and the direction to not have children going door to door for Halloween, I think there is going to be a lot more at-home Halloween parties with families. The HalloKween! story time is not just for preschoolers, it is for older kids, teens, for adults with a sense of fun, and I think if there are more parties happening, it will actually open the event up to more people as opposed to our regular pre-school story times – and it is a nice add-on for a different kind of Hallowe’en celebration this year.
“Drag Queen story hour events are happening all over the world, they are happening in libraries, schools, bookstores, and all kinds of community spaces. These events are so important to everyone in the community because they teach individuality, they teach empathy, they teach acceptance and they let our kids know that it is okay to be yourself and to love who you are – and for all kids, it teaches them to welcome the diversity of everyone in their lives and their communities. I hope that everyone in the community will come out, people who are already participating, who want to have fun, who want to show off their costumes…even those who are just curious. If you are curious it is a way to open up a new way of thinking and a new experience. If you have never come to one before, come to this one. It is going to be so much fun!”
To register for HalloKween! with Miss Eva Lasting on Saturday, October 31 from 2 – 2.30 p.m., visit bit.ly/3kg4wIx. The virtual event will be presented over Zoom.
Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran