Winona celebrates Halloween despite COVID restrictions

Winona celebrates Halloween despite COVID restrictions

Kellen Brandt, Features Reporter

Halloween might not be the scariest thing to happen this Oct. once Winona residents saw snow falling and rushed to Walmart to buy salt and shovels. Despite the early snowfall and national increase in COVID-19 cases, the Winona community is still finding ways to safely come together–or stay apart–and celebrate Halloween.

For those hoping to stay inside this year, the Winona Public Library has a take-home Halloween family kit and virtual story time planned for Oct. 31.

Marcia Ratliff, the Youth Services associate for the library, said she planned this upcoming event.

“Our Halloween event has two parts: a take-home activity kit and a virtual story time families and kids can watch at home,” Ratliff said. “The kit is for families of all ages and includes instructions and materials for three crafts, plus a few party favors, treats and a coloring sheet.”

Kits will be handed out on Saturday morning outside the library so people can stay socially-distanced. The Halloween family kit is by registration only, but the virtual story time is available to everyone with no registration required.

“We have over 100 people registered for kits so far,” Ratliff said. “We are also providing instructions for a Halloween-y craft on that event page so as many people as possible can participate if they couldn’t register in time.”

Keeping safety in mind, the library said they chose not to do their past in-person Halloween events which included a costume parade and a haunted house-style maze through the stacks.

“We know our community loves Halloween, so we came up with something families can do at home that’s still fun and festive,” Ratliff said. “The idea is to provide something fun and safe for families to celebrate Halloween even though things are different this year.”

For an outdoor activity, The EDGE Community Church is putting on a modified Trunk or Treat event from years past. Trunk or Treat will happen on Oct. 31 from 4 to 6 p.m. in front of the church.

Connie Bodas, a coordinator of Trunk or Treat, explained how they are changing their annual event due to COVID.

“We are doing a modified version of Trunk or Treat, where instead of having cars parked out in the street, we will be in front of the building, and we will have tables set up and decorated, where volunteers will pass out candy and treats,” Bodas said.

Trunk or Treat is usually an event held by the levee where volunteers would decorate their car trunk and have kids go Trunk or Treating from car to car.

Like Trunk or Treating, another chilly outdoor event happening is Halloweenona. This event will happen on Oct. 31 from 2 to 6 p.m. on Third Street next to Blooming Grounds Coffeehouse.

Cynthia Knouft, alongside Brian Knouft and Robert Armstrong, founded, created and organized the outdoor Halloweenona street festival in 2018 and are bringing it back again this year.

Knouft said this year’s Halloweenona is a miniature version of the event that took place in 2018 and it is a part of this year’s Streets and Treats event.

“The original Halloweenona was funded by a grant that we received through the Main Street Program,” Knouft said. “Our goal was to create a family-friendly event to celebrate the holiday.”

This year’s Halloweenona will be downsized from the last one but some of 2018’s activities can still be found at this year’s celebration.

“We will be back again this year with the haunted graveyard and Dr. Bob’s puppet shows,” Knouft said. “We will be social distancing and masks will be required.”

At the Trunk or Treat event, a local radio station will be in attendance playing music and doing a live broadcast among many other local groups, businesses and volunteers handing out candy and treats.

“We do this every year on Halloween for the community so that they’ll have a safe place to bring their kids trick or treating,” Bodas said. “It’s a good time for the whole family to come because we have grandmas, grandpas, moms, dads, kids and animals and it’s just a good event for the community. And we’re glad to do it.”

Like Trunk or Treat, Halloweenona is described as a family-friendly event and Knouft said “all are welcome.”

All three community events encourage masks, social distancing and of course, costumes.

“Halloween is such a social holiday—most of the fun is showing off costumes and seeing other’s costumes,” Knouft said.