West Nipissing is heading into its first “normal” Halloween in a long time. After pandemic precautions and cancellations for the last two years, kids can finally really go out and get their candy, and many staple community events are coming back.
Kids Halloween dance
Field Recreation Committee member Linda Leduc says kids “have been very patiently waiting two years for our annual Halloween kids dance,” and this year they’ll get to enjoy it once again. The event will be held on Saturday, October 29 from 7 to 10 pm at the Field Knights of Columbus Hall, with costume prizes, door prizes, fun contests and a haunted house. Entry fee is a voluntary donation to the Field Recreation Committee.
Lavigne Trunk or Treat
Trunk or Treat is coming to the Lavigne Community Centre on Saturday, October 29th from 6pm to 7:30pm. The event sees residents park their vehicles and distribute candy to kids in the parking lot. Jérôme Courchesne, Secretary at the Lavigne Community Centre, says the event started in 2016, before the pandemic, but continued through the lockdowns since it was “COVID-safe”. “It’s a very informal event. If people want to come participate all they need to do is bring their decorated vehicles and come with candy.”
Under normal circumstances, it might be considered a bad idea to accept candy from a stranger’s car. However, “there are plenty of volunteers there to keep watch and make sure things stay safe,” assures Courchesne. This year’s event will also see the return of the haunted house. “We partnered with the Scouts of West Nipissing last year to set up a haunted house, and they agreed to do so again this year. Access is free, but donations to the Scouts are appreciated.”
Courchesne expects to see between 150 to 200 kids, saying that they get people come from Monetville, Verner, even Cache Bay. Fifteen vehicles are currently registered, including the Fire Department, but on the day of the event Courchesne says they often see triple actually show up.
Kids Safe Halloween is back
The immensely popular Kids’ Safe Halloween is finally back at the Sturgeon Falls Recreation Centre. A long-time favourite event for families, on Halloween night, kids can go collect candy in the safety of the Marcel Noel Hall. The event runs from 5:30pm until 7:30pm.
“Organisations were very excited to come back. It’s been 2 years, so we really want to come back with a great event,” says Catherine Levac-Lafond, Community Development Officer with the municipality of West Nipissing. They have confirmed 19 booths for the event, and more are still being registered daily. “We keep a backup supply of candy, in case one of the booths run out, so if people want to donate to that they can,” she explains, adding that so far, they’ve had contributions from local organisations, businesses, and individuals, and that more are still coming in. “We really hope to see it be successful like it usually is. Historically we’ve seen over 1000 kids attend, so we hope it’s that busy.”
Busy time at Leisure Farms
Leisure Farms is also hosting visitors until October 31st. “People have always appreciated Leisure Farms’ Halloween events since they were outdoors, and we were able to hold some of them during lockdowns,” says Mitch Deschatelets, Manager at Leisure Farms.
A full-day family outing at Leisure Farms allows visitors to take photos in large piles of pumpkins, navigate a corn maze, walk through a haunted barn, and much more. Afterwards, attendees can take a tractor ride to the woods to walk the trails, roast marshmallows, listen to live music, get a hot chocolate and a cookie. They also serve up fire-roasted hot dogs, grilled cheeses, and donuts in the woods. The woodland trail ends back at the field where two large compressed-air cannons are set-up to shoot pumpkins out at painted hay-bail targets.
The farm has certainly been busy this season. “Last weekend was one of our best weekends, since the weather was perfect,” describes Deschatelets. He estimates that 4,000 people showed up just on that Saturday, October 22.
Community members are planning big things at their own houses too. Chad Polishak and Jennifer Dagger, at 92 First Street in Sturgeon Falls, are gearing up for a busy Halloween night. Nearly 250 kids showed up at their house last year despite the pandemic, and Polishak says it was likely due to their grand decorations display. This year, they say they’re ready to hand out candy for up to 400 kids.
Their house is decorated with a graveyard, spider webs with giant spiders in them hanging off their porch, skeletons, a big black cat, illuminated ghosts and silhouettes that move in their windows, and so much more. “Where I came from, I could never do this,” says Polishak, adding that the couple moved to Sturgeon Falls two years ago from Brantford. He says he is surprised at the lack of vandalism here, and that he’s been getting compliments and praise for the decorations from many people passing by. This year, Polishak promises an interactive experience for any trick-or-treaters who go to 92 First Street on Halloween night. It should be fun for all ages; the couple have even been thinking of having coffee, hot chocolate or hot cider for the adults too.
The loosening of health restrictions has gotten everyone excited to get back to normal, especially for holidays. West Nipissing is certainly eager to leave behind the fear of COVID-19, replacing it with Halloween frights, and plenty of sugar, instead.