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Ghost Town 

A few creative ideas that may just save your neighborhood Halloween

Halloween is an ideal holiday for creative escapists. Becoming someone else by way of an amalgam of makeup, costume wizardry and ideally, some well-devised back story and character development? Clutch.

  • Source Weekly

But then, enter COVID and Halloween; images of a gang of tiny hands inside the same candy bowl seeming, if not totally off-limits, then certainly strange to witness in this year of widespread social distancing.

With warmer temps on tap for Halloween weekend, and outside activities in which one can maintain "6 feet of distance from others" still allowed, I set about to find ways to spread the spooky joy of Halloween in my neighborhood.

Here's how I (and some others) got creative, piqued the interest of the neighbors and tried to save Halloween. And if you're reading this early enough in the week this paper hit stands, you could do the same.

Candy delivery service

In northeast Bend, Mike Manser is putting forth a solid COVID-era effort to share the Halloween love. Manser assembled a candy delivery vessel made from a piece of PVC pipe, measuring the required 6 feet or more, affixed to his doorway. The setup is complete with a courtesy fence that encourages kids to get close, but not too close.

Headstones crafted from cardboard invite the neighborhood kids to go through on Halloween night—if they dare. - MIKE MANSER
  • Mike Manser
  • Headstones crafted from cardboard invite the neighborhood kids to go through on Halloween night—if they dare.

The Pandemic witch's broom

I had some 1.5-inch-diameter PVC pipe from my summer garden hoop house on hand (pro tip: get a bigger diameter if you're buying it for candy), so to that, I affixed an old costume witch's broom to one end, and dressed the 6-foot length of the broom up with cloth. One could easily do a similar thing and turn the pipe into a wizard's staff, a merman's triton or even one giant sword. I selected PVC pipe that was not very wide, and through which only narrower candies would fit. As a result, my trick or treaters are getting only Jolly Ranchers and Tootsie Rolls. All I gotta says is, be glad you're trick or treating at all, kids.

What we know about COVID's spread on surfaces

It was one million years ago (read: it was late May) when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its guidance around the virus' transmission on surfaces, stating that COVID-19 spreads "less commonly" through contact with surfaces.

In a July paper in the medical journal The Lancet, titled, "Exaggerated risk of transmission of COVID-19 by fomites," virologist Emanuel Goldman wrote, "In my opinion, the chance of transmission through inanimate surfaces is very small, and only in instances where an infected person coughs or sneezes on the surface, and someone else touches that surface soon after the cough or sneeze (within 1–2 h)." Fomites, for those confused, "are objects or materials which are likely to carry infection."

So, those on the fence about handing out candy through a 6-foot PVC "broom" or through other socially distanced methods can be fairly certain it's not going to cause a super-spreader Halloween event.

The Tunnel of Doom

Having recently purchased my first home in Bend, bought during the height of angst around the pandemic, I felt it was my civic duty to 1. Vote in this election and 2., Create a spectacle of Halloween fun that could be enjoyed by neighbor kids in this time of isolation. Inviting kids into the house or garage to walk through an indoor haunted house was the wrong move—so my teen and I opted to build a giant monstrosity of black plastic and purple lighting in the front yard. If only my own teen and her friends enjoy it, it's been 100% worth it.

We started with a basic structure, gleaning a wooden arbor headed for the dump from a local Facebook gardening group to serve as the "doorway." A big tent with openings on both ends or one of those garage-style enclosures could easily suffice, too.

A PVC pipe with a broom head affixed to the end makes for a simple, socially distant candy-delivery device. - NICOLE VULCAN
  • Nicole Vulcan
  • A PVC pipe with a broom head affixed to the end makes for a simple, socially distant candy-delivery device.

From the arbor we affixed, with the help of a LOT of zip ties, several pieces of PVC pipe from the arbor to the eaves of the house. Over top we laid a giant piece of black plastic sheeting (to be used later to kill the abundant crab grass in the back yard) and affixed it with clamps to the PVC, achieving a tunnel-like look—while also mystifying the neighbors about what type of "home improvement" I may be doing in the midst of freezing temps.

We used sheets to separate the tunnel into three "rooms," each with its own spooky theme. Bloodied Barbies and jungle grass, gleaned from my teen daughter's collection and from willow branches in the yard, became the Jungle of Doom room. Moving farther into the tunnel is a room with a life-size Grim Reaper, where leaves fall down on the visitor. And finally, in the third room, a maze of glow sticks seems fairly innocuous, until a hand (a fake one, on another piece of PVC pipe) reaches in to poke at the visitor. All of this is set to a soundtrack of scary sounds gleaned from YouTube. All told, the costs have amounted to buying the giant piece of plastic, which will have a second life later on.

  • Nicole Vulcan

We placed high value on gathering items from around the house, and we already have a collection of costumes and masks and scary stuff that punches higher than a two-person household should, so spending a lot of money wasn't necessary. Then again, the Halloween stores are rife with plenty of spooks and goblins and other stuff that could make your scare tunnel waaaayyy better than ours.

But when Halloween night comes and the neighborhood tweens and teens are running in haste from the invisible PVC-pipe hand that tries to clutch them in the darkness, I'm guessing they won't care much about the costs, or lack thereof.

They'll just be glad someone made a little effort to save Halloween.

Since revealing all the fun before the big event would not be conducive to a full-scare experience, you can see the final, Halloween-night version of the Scare Tunnel in the online version of this story after Oct. 31, at

We Asked Locals, What Are Your Plans for Halloween? In a COVID-era year, it's a scarily mellow time for many

Hunter Thompson
"I'm most likely going to select a few friends who have been socially distancing so I can still have some fun but not endanger myself and others in the process."

Annalise Ramsthel
"Our baby is only a few months old and we've been trying to keep his social circle small, so we will not be trick or treating. But we plan on dressing him up and taking a photo for memories. He's going to be Bob Ross!"

Derik Clinton
"I live in an apartment so I will not be participating in handing out candy, but I will be attending a costume party with some friends."

Jessica, Mother of two
"We do not have any plans at the moment. We're not sure what everyone's doing. We may go trick or treating—we just haven't made a plan to do so yet."

Not-so scary socially-safe events
Thursday 10/29
Spooktacular Drive-In Night Out
Benefiting Every Child Central Oregon

A family friendly and spooky affair. "Casper" will be screened as a drive-in movie; only one ticket per car needed! Make a whole night of it and stay for a kid costume contest, raffle prize and a silent auction. All proceeds go toward helping youth in foster care and foster care providers in Central Oregon. Thu., Oct. 29, 5:30pm. Cascades Relays, 1177 SE Ninth St., Bend. $50.

Drive-Through Alternative bto Trick-or-Treating
A Safer Way to Halloween

Habitat for Humanity is offering a drive-through trick-or-treat experience for those looking for a socially distanced and safe Halloween. Each child will receive a special Halloween goody bag and costumes are encouraged. While supplies last! Sat., Oct. 31, 10am-Noon. Habitat for Humanity ReStore, 224 NE Thurston Ave., Bend. Free.

Halloween Scavenger Hunt
Safe, Fun & Free!

An interactive Halloween experience. Bring your costumed family to a spooky scavenger hunt at First Presbyterian Bend. Kids get the chance to hunt for all the items on the list and the chance to win a free treat bag. Parents can also win by entering a raffle for a local gift card up to $25! Sat., Oct. 31, Noon-4pm. First Presbyterian Church, 230 NE Ninth St., Bend. Free.

Annual Bend Witches Paddle
Donations for Mountain Star Relief Nursery

The annual witching event is still on this year! Grab your witch's hat and paddle or float your way down the river. Direct and in-kind donations are encouraged for Mountain Star Relief Nursery. Join when you can or stay on land and watch the witches paddle by! Sat., Oct. 31, 2pm. Riverbend Park, 799 SW Columbia St., Bend. Free.

Thursday- Sunday10/29-11/1
Spooky Spectacular Circus Show
In-Person and Livestreamed

Join a limited audience or stay home and stream a spooky and magnificent circus show that's sure to delight. An all- new show featuring acrobats, comedy, magic, music and more. All-ages Halloween fun! Thu. and Fri., 7pm; Sat., Noon, 3 and 6pm; Sun., 1 and 4pm, Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center, 3800 SW Airport Way, Redmond. $19-$99.

Halloween in the Old Mill
Family and Pet Friendly Fun

Celebrate Halloween at the Old Mill with three-dimensional photo stations that will bring your costumes to life. Themes range from Harry Potter to Frozen and even a station designed for pets. Share and tag photos for a chance to win prizes! Wed.-Fri., Oct. 28- Oct. 30, 11am-6pm. Old Mill District, 450 SW Powerhouse Dr., Bend. Free. Barbie dolls from another era are hung upside down in the Scare Tunnel's Jungle Room. That old-school Barbie waist-to-hip ratio?! Terrifying.

About The Author

Nicole Vulcan

Nicole Vulcan has been editor of the Source since 2016. While the pandemic reduced "hobbies" to "aspirations," you can mostly find her raising chickens, walking dogs, riding all the bikes and attempting to turn a high desert scrap of land into a permaculture oasis. (Progress: slow.)
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