It's Halloween day, and northern Saskatchewan is ready for some spooktacular, safe fun.
Indigenous Spirits, a La Ronge youth organization, is hosting "Bringing Halloween to You" — a parade that will make its way through the tri-communities in the region Saturday evening.
Shane Bird, an organizer of the event, says La Ronge and the surrounding communities especially need something festive for the whole family this year, as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on.
"I grew up loving Halloween and we just wanted to bring Halloween to the youth this year," Bird said.
"This year has brought many challenges, and we wanted to celebrate Halloween in a safe way to ease the stress of these trying times."
Bird says organizers are hoping to hit as many streets as possible Halloween night so that all the children and families can get goodies that have been safely handed out by the Indigenous Spirit youth. He promised a family-oriented, spirited event.
The parade, which will have an RCMP escort, will make its way to Far Reserve, Bells Point, Fairchild, Air Ronge, Bigstone, Morin's Hill and La Ronge. There will be fire trucks and an Indigenous Spirits float, among other floats and vehicles.
"There will be this loud, scary music … flashing lights. We're going to have a Halloween scare crew … a herd of zombies that are going to be handing out candy and scaring the kids," Bird said. "It's going to be pretty fun."
Bird is encouraging everyone who's watching the parade from the streets and their homes to dress up. He certainly will, going as the villain Michael Myers from the 1978 classic Halloween.
Bird says the parade is a collaborative effort made possible with the support of multiple community organizations and agencies.
Halloween in the home
Bird isn't the only one excited for northern Halloween festivities. Linda Charles of Stanley Mission has been busy planning a safe quarantine Halloween extravaganza for her youngest children.
"I'm going to be giving out candy for the ones that come here. And for my little ones, I was planning to have an Easter-Halloween kind of thing. I hid Halloween candies around the house and the little ones will look for them," Charles said.
Meanwhile, her eldest daughters are ready to hit the trick-or-treat trail, with one dressed as the terrifying clown Pennywise from the Stephen King classic It and the other as a goth.
Charles has told them to stick to their neighborhood and practise physical distancing, and she says the pandemic has changed the way her children feel about certain costumes.
"My two-year-old used to be scared when she saw a mask. But now she's, like, trying to grab the mask off of a person," she said.
Tammy Cook-Searson, chief of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band — one of the sponsors of "Bringing Halloween to You" — said she'll be involved in any way that she can during the parade.
You may spot her dressed up as Colonel Sanders, the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken. She may even be carrying a bucket.
"I'm so glad that people there are getting to get involved with Halloween, even though it's been such a tough year," said Cook-Searson.
"We're in a world pandemic right now. And the second wave is hitting our communities. We have positive COVID-19 cases in our community. They're self-isolating."
Cook-Searson says the parade is a great opportunity for everyone to have fun, but says everyone needs to be vigilant and follow COVID-19 guidelines to the letter.
"We encourage people to use tongs when they're handing out treats, and try and social distance and wear masks and rubber gloves. [Try to get] the kids to social distance when they're going house to house," she said.
"I know that I see a lot of kids that are so happy about Halloween this year. But we also have to be mindful of the world pandemic that we're in."
Bringing Halloween to You parade route schedule:
Far Reserve & Bells Point: 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Fairchild and Air Ronge: 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Bigstone and Morin's Hill: 7 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
La Ronge: 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.