Guest Author: Haylee Scovil
For kids and adults alike, Halloween in Bangor, Maine, is an extraordinary time of year with many fun events and spooky activities to get in the Halloween spirit; however, with the COVID-19 pandemic present in the state of Maine, precautions are being taken to minimize the risk of community spread in Bangor. As a result, Halloween is looking to be less spooky than usual this year.
20 miles east of Bangor, just outside the small town of Bucksport, Fort Knox is one of the best maintained historic military forts in New England and rests on the side of the Penobscot River. Annually, the fort hosts “Fright at the Fort,” a haunted tour through the fort in the dark of night. Each year, hundreds of volunteers gather and commit to a theme (Stephen King was the theme in 2018) and decorate themselves and the fort according to the theme and lead small groups through the haunted fort. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, Fright at the Fort 2020 has been canceled. According to a post on their website, “As a result of its success, [they] know [they] cannot safely entertain even half the usual 2,000-3,000 guests per night under COVID-19 precautions.”
Along with Fright at the Fort, other annual ghostly events have been canceled in the area as a precaution to COVID-19. Many locals choose to trek out of Bangor to Kenduskeag, where a house is famous for being the scariest haunted house in the area. Typically, the money that the event brings in goes toward the Kenduskeag Recreation so that children of Kenduskeag and some surrounding towns can have uniforms for recreational activities for free. The Kenduskeag Haunted House woefully announced back in August that the house would not be spooking folks this Halloween season. This is a disappointment for all folks in surrounding Penobscot county towns because the house has been a hit since 1983, and is a local Halloween favorite.
Though popular events are getting canceled locally, there is one event in Bangor that will happen this season. “Trunk Or Treat” at the Morgan Hill Event Center in Hermon will take place from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24. There will be one-hour-long slots available for 100 people at a time, to allow maximum social distancing. Trunk or treating is a fun twist on traditional trick-or-treating, where instead of skipping from house to house, kids go trunk to trunk getting candy from decorated open trunks of cars.
The head of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Nirav Shah, stated in a local news report that he thinks trick-or-treating can happen if the community works together to make socially-distant and responsible decisions regarding children running house to house for candy.
This year, neighborhood folks who want to hand out candy are planning to do so in fun, creative and socially-distant ways. One family invented the candy slide as a socially distant way to hand out candy this season. The candy slide is a giant decorated PVC pipe that allows the homeowner to slide candy through the pipe and down into a child’s candy bag — what a genius and fun way to get candy! That method beats running up to a doorbell by a landslide. Another creative family invented candy sticking. Candy sticking is when the candy is attached to bamboo sticks on the front lawn and children can run on the lawn and pick their candy off a stick! Here in the Bangor area, these methods would allow for a sweet and exciting Halloween trick-or-treating after cancellations and disappointments caused by COVID-19 this year.
So many local Penobscot county towns host annual events such as haunted houses, haunted tours, festivals and trick-or-treating that bring important business and excitement to the towns year after year. Though many local events are being canceled, the fun and excitement that Halloween brings are not disappearing. Locals are preparing for a Halloween that will be unlike any other, and though that may include waiting another year for the much anticipated haunted house, residents of Bangor and surrounding towns are working to make trick-or-treating happen as best as possible while being conscientious of COVID-19.