Halloween is trickier this year

Traditions get a new twist to make this holiday safer for kids during the pandemic.

Emmet Puchalla holds one of the rocks children will be hunting for around Nevis the week of Halloween. Each rock will be numbered and matches a prize at a local business. The Nevis PTA is sponsoring this event. (Submitted photo)

Halloween in years past was a carefree time as children went trick or treating from door to door in their neighborhoods and participated in Trick or Treat Park Rapids, sponsored by the Park Rapids Downtown Business Association (DBA). In Nevis, the gym would be packed with children playing games at the Parent Teacher Association’s annual fall carnival.

Organizers of these events have been working hard to give children a different sort of Halloween fun this year, while following the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control for safely celebrating Halloween in the midst of a pandemic.

Trick or Treat Candy Walk

The DBA and the Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce are putting together treat bags for little ghosts and goblins. Their Trick or Treat Candy Walk will be held Saturday, Oct. 31 from 3 to 5 p.m.

Tables will be set up on the sidewalk at 416 Main Ave. S., in front of Main Street Meats, and volunteers will hand out treat bags to kids, who are encouraged to wear their Halloween costumes as they walk from their family car to get their treats. In order to keep this event safe, social distancing and masks will be necessary.

Participants are encouraged to treat the Hubbard County Food Shelf, too. The Park Rapids Rotary tent will also be set up on the fourth block of Main for donations of nonperishable


items for the food shelf. Cash donations are also welcome.

Halloween rock hunt

Emily Whitaker is co-chair of the Nevis Parent Teacher Association (PTA).

“It’s a tricky year to try to do anything,” she said. “I’ve had lots of calls about the Halloween carnival which I thought was kind of silly that anyone would think we’d be having it, that would be a bad idea.”

Instead of the fall festival, there will be 50 rocks, spray-painted teal with pumpkins on them and a number on the back, hidden in various areas around Nevis for kids to hunt for during the last week of October. PTA members will hide the rocks on Sunday, Oct. 25, at Muskie Park, Halvorson Park, the disc golf course and the pollinator garden.

“We would like it to be for kids from K-6,” Whitaker said. “They can have help from their families.”

When a kid finds a rock, they will have someone take a picture of them with the rock and email it to with their address.


“We’ll mail them a gift certificate with the prize that matches that number the first week of November,” Whitaker said. “They get to keep the rock.”

The PTA is buying gift certificates from local Nevis businesses for prizes, using money raised from previous fundraisers.

“We like to support those businesses that have been incredible at supporting our community and our school,” she said. “It’s a way for us to give back. The whole point of us doing the scavenger hunt is to get families to go out and be active outside in a safe manner while experiencing Nevis. It’s a challenge and it gets kids outside. I think a lot of kids, with distance learning, are home. They’re on their iPads. They’re staying in the house.”

A large family pizza from Cindy Lou’s is the grand prize. “That rock’s going to be hidden pretty good,” Whitaker said. “We might be putting clues on our Facebook page for the really hard ones. I’d like to post the pictures of kids with the rocks there, too.”

Other Halloween ideas

Whitaker said, as a mom, she is trying to find creative ways to make Halloween fun for her kids.

“We’re having a movie night in the basement, with not-too-scary Disney movies, and I’m going to get bags of candy for them instead of taking them trick or treating,” she said. “We will be making a new family tradition for Halloween. Due to COVID, we have to make new traditions, and it can be fun to find different ways to celebrate. You could do things you’ve never gotten to do before because you’ve always trick or treated or gone to the Halloween carnival.”

Having a family pumpkin-carving contest and then roasting the seeds, making homemade treats together, making a Halloween pinata and filling it with candy to break on Halloween or driving around on an October night to look at Halloween decorations are some other ideas for families to consider.

“You could have a bonfire in the backyard and tell spooky stories,” Whitaker said. “Families can be together, that’s what’s most important. COVID is scary, but I’ve found that I spend much more time with my kids doing family stuff because we’re stuck at home, and it’s been good for my family. We’re normally a busy family. We run around and do a lot of stuff, especially I do.”


Halloween mask advice from the CDC

The CDC recommendations state that a Halloween costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the child’s mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around their face.

Do not wear a costume mask over a cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe. Instead, consider wearing a Halloween-themed cloth mask.

Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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