A skeleton beset by flamingos stands sentinel in Dana Hanselman’s front yard next to Glacier Highway on Oct. 9, 2020. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

A skeleton beset by flamingos stands sentinel in Dana Hanselman’s front yard next to Glacier Highway on Oct. 9, 2020. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Juneau readies for coronavirus-adjusted Halloween

Flamingos, trunk-or-treating, and masks are all part of the holiday in pandemic.

As the spookiest time of the year draws nigh, Juneau residents are working to make sure the only terror is from the costumes.

“We’re organizing an outdoor, pandemic friendly trunk-Or-treat,” said Debrah Chaytors in a phone interview. “We really wanted to focus on something outdoor.”

The trunk-or-treat, organized by Chaytors in cooperation with Mendenhall Mall owner Patsy Dunn is just one of the adaptations to the pandemic seen in Juneau this year. Others are holding car parades, holding Halloween parties within their own close-contact groups or celebrating the season with decorations.

[COVID-19 case numbers soar over the weekend]

“We’ve always been the flamingo house,” said Dana Hanselman, whose 7-foot decorative skeleton infested by plastic flamingos is easily visible along Glacier Highway, a spooky sentinel across from Auke Lake.

They missed purchasing the first oversized skeleton and snagged the second available, said Hanselman, whose house also hosts ghostly flamingos illuminated at night by blacklights. Hanselman said his house has hosted the flamingos for years, now to be joined in-season by the skeleton, though he’s not sure where he’ll store it in the meantime.

‘Boos’ and don’ts for Halloween

A City and Borough of Juneau news release outlined best practices from the State of Alaska’s public health division and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Door-to-door trick-or-treating as well as haunted houses and Halloween parties are designated as high-risk activities by the CDC. Handing out individual candy to trick-or-treaters is also considered high-risk without measures such as gloves and frequent sanitizing, according to the news release. Masks in particular are a concern.

“A typical Halloween mask doesn’t offer the same type of protection against COVID-19 that a surgical mask or cloth face covering provides. Make sure children who are trick-or-treating use a covering that provides a double layer of fabric over their nose and mouth,” the city said in the release. “The CDC advises against layering a Halloween mask over a fabric face covering because that could make it harder to breathe. Instead, modify the costume so it allows the child to wear the protective face covering.”

Additionally, the city’s parks and recreation department is partnering with the Gold Town Theater to present a pair of drive-in movie screenings Saturday evening. “The Addams Family,” the 2019 animated version, will be shown at 6 p.m. “Poltergeist,” the 1982 version, will be shown at 9:30 p.m. Both movies will be shown at Savikko Park.

Many residents are taking the best practice guidance to heart, pulling back from traditional Halloween activities in the name of safety.

“We’re planning on forgoing any trick-or-treating or any parades or anything like that,” said Jessica Snyder in a phone interview. “The kids have spent the last couple of weeks decorating the house so we can have a Halloween party.”

Snyder said they’re only going to one house to trick-or-treat- the children’s grandparents, who also live in Juneau. Beyond that, they’re limiting activities to a fun Halloween party, only involving people from their close contact group. Snyder said her children understand why this year can’t be a typical Halloween.

“I’m feeling OK. The kids are a little on the older edge of trick-or-treating anyway,” said Snyder. “They’re not surly or upset because we’ve taken the city’s and the states mandates pretty seriously. It’ll be fun for them.”

Chaytons, organizing the trunk-or-treat, arranged the event so prevent crowding or promote efficient throughput of visitors. There will be about thirty ‘trunks’- spread out in the parking lot, with pre-wrapped bags of candy, and copious hand sanitizer, and volunteers to move pods along and prevent lingering.

“Even from the very beginning, people were like, isn’t this a large event? We know that not everyone is going to feel comfortable with it, and everyone is going to make their own decision,” Chaytors said. “Every 30 feet you’re going to be sanitized. We’re going to put down taped mitigation arrows. We have people on site making sure no one’s congregating. You are in charge of your own pod. Masks are 100 percent required. We’re gonna have a start point that’s stanchioned off so it’s going to be an obvious flow.”

Know & Go

What: Trunk-or-Treating

When: 4-6 p.m., Oct. 31

Where: 9105 Mendenhall Mall Road.

How much: Free

What: Drive-in Movies

When: “Addams Family” at 6 p.m. ; “Poltergeist” at 9:30 p.m. Parking for the earlier movie opens at 5:15 p.m., parking for the later movie opens at 8:45 p.m.

Where: 101 Savikko Road, Douglas, Alaska, 99824

How much: Tickets are free, available beginning on Tuesday.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

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