Who is there?
No. (smile) It’s not a knock, knock joke. It’s us, your Pumpkin Prowl team trick or treating at your place of residence, except we’re bringing the candy to you.
For 6 years, we have held the Kate Andrus Pumpkin Prowl in the Crown Point community, welcoming families from all over Hamilton and beyond to participate in our alternate Halloween event.
It all started in 2014 with 20 kids, a small little gathering with a few simple games at Belview Park, before we headed out to trick-or-treat at a dozen or so participating neighbouring homes on a Saturday before Halloween. Now, we still meet on a Saturday before Halloween, but we welcome over 200 youth from newborns, to teenagers who still marvel in the magic that is Halloween, beginning with a small carnival at the park, followed by trick-or-treating at over 40 participating homes that welcome early Halloween enthusiasts. We keep growing in popularity and importance every year.
This event was started as an opportunity for separated families to be able to enjoy a Halloween-like event, but it’s grown to welcome kids who are looking for any opportunity to dress up in costume, extended family who may miss Halloween with their favorite littles due to family conflict, or because work schedules leave you having to dig into your kids’ candy bags when you return from night shift in the morning.
We’ve done our best to take the stress out of Halloween and for many months, we’ve been pondering how we could continue this tradition during a global pandemic?
Usually by April, we’ve already announced the date of our yearly event, or earlier if Forge FC and the Ticats schedules are ready beforehand. By May, we are already reaching out to vendors and before summer’s over, washrooms, bouncy castles, tables, chairs, event tents, and other rental items are already secured.
So here we find ourselves well into September this year, realizing more and more with the growing case numbers of Covid-19, that the likelihood of Halloween itself – never mind Pumpkin Prowl, was not a realistic expectation. I’ve heard talk about sliding candy down tubes from your front porch, and have even seen them for sale in stores, but it’s impossible to tell how far the gaps between the homes will be this year. If nothing else, the festival at the park was definitely a no- go by pure provincial regulations alone.
“We don’t have the power to just order Halloween cancelled,” he said, “but I can tell you right now, if the medical officer of health’s advice to me is that I should say to parents, ‘You should not go out and you should not be handing out candy and all those kinds of things, because we think it poses a risk, especially with numbers going up,’ I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to do that.” ~ John Tory, Mayor of Toronto
“Just makes me nervous kids going door-to-door … I prefer not to. ” ~ Ontario Premier, Doug Ford
‘Trick-or-treating has been banned in Woodstock, N.B., a motion passed unanimously by Woodstock’s city council.’From a Sept 23rd article about the status of Halloween 2020
We’ve always highlighted the importance of children and caring adults alike, not missing out on the opportunity to share in these moments that only last for so many years. But this year it might be something the world over, families are going to have to opt out of for the safety of their children, themselves, the elderly, and other immunocompromised family, friends, and neighbours.
Our children have had to deal with a lot this year. From the longest March break ever, missing school trips and dances due to teacher work-to-rule, cancelled graduations and already bought dresses and suits collecting dust in the closet, the early cancellation of winter sports and quiet soccer fields, baseball fields, and play structures wondering where all the kids are to enjoy their wonder. Then yesterday, a message from my daughter’s former school announcing that even the hope of fall graduation ceremonies was now officially lost.
Now, our kids are wearing masks all day or learning at home out of concerns for safety, missing out on school activities again including sports, dances, and other creative outlets. Annual Christmas parades have long since been cancelled, and the fate of Halloween increasingly looms in the early night skies.
With September winding down, it was time to either join the list of cancelled events, knowing that people would be disappointed, or figure out an alternative. Cancelling would be understood given increasing infection numbers and the overall state of the world. However, we also haven’t stopped brainstorming how we could do something to keep the tradition alive regardless, pretty much since April when we usually make our first announcement of the year.
If you follow our yearly activities, you’ll possibly remember that a few days before Easter this year, we decided that we were going to play the part of the Easter Bunny, and delivered treats to over 200 kids from across Hamilton from Waterdown, to Stoney Creek.
With many generous donations, we were able to create and deliver decent little Easter packages to many families. From those that perhaps have a hard time affording this holiday every year, never mind during a pandemic, or others who left sanitized money in baggies because it wasn’t that they couldn’t afford Easter, but that they didn’t feel safe going out shopping given the state of the world.
It really made our year being able to give back in that way. You can also see from the videos we created throughout Easter weekend, that we had a lot of fun doing it as well.
While we do have many other thoughts of things we would like to offer as part of a virtual Pumpkin Prowl, if nothing else, we will do our best to travel to as many homes as donations and volunteers allow, to bring some sort of Halloween cheer to families across Hamilton; not unlike our impromptu Kate Andrus Bunny Hop back in April.
Stay tuned to www.pumpkinprowl.ca for updates but for now, we have created an interest form for families to fill out. The plan is to make deliveries with a special super hero guest on the day of Halloween but depending on volunteers, this may have to be spread out over the course of a weekend. It took one vehicle 2 days to deliver treats to 200 kids for Easter to provide a little perspective.
As always, we have many ways you can donate to this event, and our volunteer ask will be even greater this year with us looking for everything from food-safe sanitizers, packagers, drivers, facilitating an all day Facebook Live feed, mapping, folks to host virtual events like crafts, dance party/DJ, etc. The more volunteers we have, even if some are on reserve, it will also help us ensure that if there is any illness among volunteers, that we have others to step in to ensure nobody is coming into contact with the treats. Also like we did back in April, deliveries will be made wearing masks and gloves to ensure optimum safety, and while adhering to strict guidelines. With experience in food-safe sanitation, we will take the appropriate precautions in packaging and delivering the candy.
We look forward to having you on the team, and meeting participating families from a safe distance this Halloween. Since we are doing the trick-or-treating in reverse and coming to your doors, perhaps this year will be titled “Pumpkin Prowl 2020- Upside Down Halloween”?
Your special 2020 Pumpkin Prowl Team