Halloween During Quarantine

BY: Barbara Ebel and Gregory Anderson

There is a new event coming to Brisbane soon: Brisbanoween! If you haven’t already heard, Brisbanoween is a scavenger hunt and story exploration game happening around town. In some ways, Halloween comes at the perfect time to provide relief from six months of quarantine before we are all cooped up over the winter. Covid IS serious, but with social distancing and no touch options, Halloween can be fun and safe.
There will be three separate storytelling event lines: Spooky Time on Sierra Point Rd for little kids, the Scavenger Hunt for older kids and adults, and True Ghost Stories where residents share their genuine Brisbane ghost stories. All the story lines use smart phones to play. Trick-or-Treaters will explore the streets around Brisbane, looking for tell-tale “Brisbanoween” signs hung up at participating houses. These signs all contain a large square barcode called a “QR code” that can be scanned with a smart phone. Use Google to look up instructions on how to use QR codes if you’ve never done it before. Scanning a code will bring up a page where you can read the part of the story set at that location. No touching is involved–it all comes up on your phone!
We will start on Friday Oct 30th, the day before Halloween, with a quieter event geared for local Brisbane residents, and we will do it all again on Saturday, Halloween eve, with all three events running both nights. During Covid, we do not really know what to expect, but most years Brisbane attracts a lot of Trick-or-Treaters from all over. Starting Halloween early will allow people with safety concerns a chance to get out and enjoy Halloween and make it easier to maintain social distancing. “Early Halloween” was a last-minute idea, so it is possible that not every house will have gotten the message. Safety-conscious parents are encouraged to bring their own candy to distribute to their children at each story location; this trick will make sure that everyone gets a treat, no matter what night it is.
Halloween itself will be happening on Saturday night which, is bound to be a bit more exciting and crowded. To keep things as safe as possible, we are handing out safety guidelines to participating houses, and asking them to adhere to the standards. Candy chutes are one example of how people are preparing to maintain social distancing when handing out candy. We are asking people to not have trick-or-treaters come to their door, pass through narrow areas that might result in crowding, or distribute candy from a “grab bowl” or unattended table.
Showing off your costume has always been an important part of Halloween; trick-or-treaters will be able to upload selfies at the different locations around town to become part of the first Brisbanoween recorded history on the website. Of course, one of the most important things to get in the Halloween spirit is decorating! 40% of people who responded to the survey we distributed downtown said that they would decorate for Halloween. Now we just need everyone to follow through and set the stage!
It feels like we have been living with Covid for a long time, but there is still a lot that we do not know about it so we need to take care to be prepared.
Make sure you know how to use your phone’s QR code reader and practice a bit. Move away from the QR code sign as soon as you have scanned it, so that others can have their turn without getting too close to you.
We also ask that everyone self screen at home according to the CDC’s guidelines before heading out or passing out candy. We will be giving household participating in the event a sheet with safety guidelines.
Make sure your mask meets safety standards and carry a spare with you. Make sure that you wear your mask such that it covers both your mouth and nose.
Don’t touch anything when you are out trick-or-treating. Do not accept candy from houses not following the safety guidelines, and wait until you get home and clean up before eating any candy.
Carry hand sanitizer in case you touch something.
Brisbanoween has a website, www.brisbanoween.net; please check the site for updated information about these events. If you have a question, want to volunteer or have ideas, please email us at brisbanoween@reetstreet.com, or join the Facebook group; you can find a link to it on the website.