North Sask. communities adapt Halloween to health concerns

·2 min read

Amanda Scherlie’s family will go trick-or-treating without leaving the driveway this year.

Beauval, where they live, has cancelled door knocking for treats on Halloween over COVID-19 concerns. On Saturday, it plans to hold a parade featuring village volunteers handing out prepackaged, sanitized candy bags to the costumed ghosts and ghouls waiting along its route.

Scherlie’s family will be among them. She sees it as an opportunity to be creative while communities in the region consider how to update holiday customs.

“It’s just an opportunity to start a new tradition,” she said.

Beauval Mayor Nick Daigneault said the village could either host trick-or-treating with extra precautions or hold a parade. The village chose the latter to include residents and their children who have been self-isolating, he said. Traditions like pumpkin carving will also continue virtually.

He said it’s a lesson for smaller municipalities to maintain their sense of community while following health precautions.

“That was important to us. We don’t want that to bog them down,” he said. “This way we could be inclusive of all those households.”

Beauval isn’t the only northern community considering how to adapt Halloween to health concerns.

Youth-led organization Indigenous Spirits will host a parade in the Lac La Ronge area, where a herd of zombie volunteers will shamble by and deliver candy to youth. The parade will also include multiple floats and a costume contest.

Organizer Shane Bird said the event could be a small relief after a challenging year.

“We want to celebrate Halloween in a safe way to ease the stress of these trying times within the communities,” he said.

Other northern communities like English River First Nation and Patuanak will go ahead with trick-or-treating while following guidelines from the Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority. Those include avoiding direct contact while distributing candy and maintaining physical distance.

Other residents will be more inclined to stay home.

One of them in Beauval, Gavin Burnouf, hopes to spend the holiday baking with his family and watching scary movies. He hoped it would be different next year, but said it’s “always better to be safe.”

Scherlie similarly plans to spend time with family, hosting activities like a scavenger hunt and making Halloween-themed baking soda and vinegar volcanoes.

Regardless of what traditions emerge from the holiday this year, Daigneault hopes the village’s sense of community will adapt to changing circumstances.

“We didn’t want them to lose out.”

Nick Pearce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The StarPhoenix