It’s scary just how much fun kids and their parents are going to have this Halloween around the Peninsula.
But due to the lingering pandemic, many public and private events associated with the frightful holiday are going to be more restrained with personal contact shunned in favor of drive-by functions.
CARNIVAL OF CARNAGE
Such is the case with Ocean Beach Recreation Center’s Halloween Carnival, which draws more than 100 trick or treaters annually featuring a costume contest for all ages where guests bring a Halloween bag to collect prizes and treats.
This year the Recreation Center’s Halloween Carnival will be strictly a drive-thru event on Saturday, Oct. 30 from 10 a.m. to noon. Drive by and say hi to the OB recreation staff at the center who will be handing out goodies curbside. Please wear masks. Costumes are optional. For more information, call 619-531-1527.
COVID didn’t deter Alexandra Watkins and Glenn Millar at 1835 Venice St. from rolling out their animatronic Halloween extravaganza this year replete with pirates, witches, and dueling skeletal banjo players.
“We love it, we have a crowd here every night,” said Alexandra of their Halloween display. “We have this great big front yard, so we put up a couple of things including a pirate in a crow’s nest in our palm tree that’s up year-round and people really liked it. We have animatronics with a witch in a rocking chair and pirates. People call us the pirate house. Every year, we do a little bit more, add more stuff.”
“It’s sound- and motion-activated, all they have to do is clap their hands, or have dogs barking, to set it off,” said Glenn of their spooky moving display. “We started it three years ago with a couple of things we thought were cool. We just got this amazing reaction from people. So we just kept adding to it. Last year, we had a 15-foot candy tube so we would not have to get too near the kids. We rolled chocolate eyeballs down it. That was really popular with the kids.”
Alexandra noted there was one surprising thing that was especially tough to find this year for their Halloween setup. “We had to find some hay, which is really hard when you live in Point Loma,” she said noting they finally found some in East County. But she added all the little extra details really help make their display even more special. “Neighbors come by every night and the kids love the pirates and all the animatronics,” said Alexandra. “It’s just fun to see Halloween through the eyes of a child.”
“Every year we ask ourselves, ‘OK, what can we do this time?” said Glenn pointing out his intent is for the display “to get bigger and bigger.” He noted this year they didn’t have the sound and lighting hooked up together, which is something he’d like to improve upon.
“Next year my goal will be to put in eerie sounds and to have those connected with the lights so that they will flash while the animatronics move,” he said adding, “It’s a learning process.”
But Glenn said the results and the goodwill the display promotes is worth all the effort. “We just love how many people stop by our house particularly with their children, and have outdoor conversations with our neighbors that we’d never met before,” he said. “We just met a couple and their dog out here from Scottsdale taking care of their dad, and we set up a play date for our dogs. It’s a great way to get to know people. Some people come by every day and bring their kids, who don’t want to just see the new stuff, but want to keep seeing it (display).”
Alexandra noted Halloween is going to be a big day for them. “During COVID, we were surprised at how many kids did actually come out trick or treating, and their parents came out too,” she said. “It turned into this social activity where a bunch of parents went out with their kids and brought their friends. We set up a wine bar and served the adults. This year we’re expecting a lot more people for Halloween because so many people have come by our house every day, and we’ve had pictures and videos on Facebook and Next Door. People really appreciate the effort we’ve put in.”
Loma Portal Elementary has traditionally had a monster bash: an in-person Halloween carnival and haunted house staged by volunteer dads converting the school’s gymnasium into something otherworldly at 3341 Browning St. The event has included an outdoor carnival featuring fun and games including a photo booth to take pictures of costumed kids, along with supplying food and drinks and other amusements including face painting and the annual PTA fundraising bake sale and cake walk contest,
But the carnival and haunted house this year, sponsored by the LPE Foundation, has been transformed into a drive-by event, with the Loma dads once again staging it to create a magical evening for the kids.
HALLOWEEN AT LIBERTY STATION
Liberty Station’s Halloween at the Station, an annual free, family-friendly event, returns on Sunday, Oct. 31 from 1-4 p.m. at the North Promenade at 2848 Dewey Road. All ages are encouraged to come decked out in their most elaborate costumes. With their candy bags in tow, families can explore the corridors of Liberty Station and pop into local businesses and shops that will be opening their doors for trick-or-treating.
HAUNTING MUSIC AND FUN
Songbirds Music inside Dance Place at NTC Liberty Station at 2650 Truxtun Road has two family-friendly pop-up classes planned on Halloween on Sunday, Oct. 31 at 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. Enjoy an outdoor family music class in Ingram Plaza. Later, at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., partake in interactive storytime with puppets and art inside their studio. Each class is $25 per family and registration is open online.