By Gabrielle Gasser EBS STAFF
BIG SKY — The spooky season is upon us and with it comes cooler weather and the promise of powder turns looming just around the corner. But first, Halloween.
With a global pandemic in full swing, many traditional Halloween events around the nation are being canceled. Here in Big Sky, however, there are still ways to safely enjoy the holiday.
As Ody Loomis, a parent in the community, is remaining optimistic. “We need to find the silver lining,” she said.
Loomis, a nurse at the Bozeman Health Big Sky Medical Center, has a 7-year-old son, Reed, who attends second grade at the Big Sky Discovery Academy. While she’s not comfortable taking her son trick-or-treating this year, she is excited for the Discovery Academy’s “Historical Halloween” assignment, which gives the kids an opportunity to dress up the Friday before Halloween.
The assignment is simple: pick a historical figure who is considered a peacemaker, learn about their life, then dress up as them and present what you learned to the class.
In past years, Reed has dressed up as John Muir and Gandhi. This year, he will be Maurice Hillman, a Montana native and vaccologist who was responsible for developing more than 40 vaccines, remedying illnesses such as measles, mumps, and Hepatitis A and B. The students’ findings will be presented online this year on Oct. 30.
“There’s a silver lining in everything and I think this is a great opportunity to do something different and still make it fun and let the kids dress up and be someone else,” Loomis said.
Loomis added that Reed will still dress up at home and they’ll go on an adventure for Halloween rather than trick-or-treating this year. Their Halloween adventure list includes a possible hike or even sledding—conditions permitting—since as Loomis said, “after 17 years in Big Sky I know it always snows on Halloween.”
Even if you aren’t a second grader at the Discovery Academy, there are still options for Halloween fun offered by the Town Center Owners Association and their partners.
The fourth annual Haunted Peaks Festival will still take place Oct. 30-31 with health and safety modifications in place. This year, the film festival will be held virtually through YouTube playlists, but the haunted house and door-to-door trick-or-treating at businesses will not take place.
Otherwise, there is still a full docket of events for the community to enjoy.
There will be pumpkin carving and window display competitions, a virtual concert, a geocache mystery, and Yappy Hour—a pet costume competition. All of these events will follow safety guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Gallatin City-County Health Department.
“As far as Halloween goes,” said Candace Strauss, CEO of the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce, “we are working with Matt Kelley and the Gallatin City County Health Department in regards to anything that we do.”
Right now, any gathering that will involve 50 people or more requires a special event permit from the health department. Erik Morrison, events and social media manager for TCOA, said they were recently approved to hold the Great Pumpkin Giveaway.
“I’m super excited that they gave us the go ahead and we are happy with the strategy that we outlined to be COVID-safe,” Morrison said.
The event is a massive food drive for the Big Sky Community Food Bank. The community is invited to the Town Center to make a canned food donation and receive a pumpkin in exchange. Due to COVID-19, all donations must be made at curbside pickup stations. Event volunteers will have their temperatures checked at the beginning of the day and will wear gloves as well as make frequent use of the available sanitization stations.
Along with these events provided by TCOA, there are also options for safe trick-or-treating for those who cannot, in good conscience, let Halloween pass without receiving their share of candy.
The CDC posted a helpful list of guidelines that categorizes potential Halloween activities as low, moderate and high risk. Along with these labels, they offer suggestions for safer activities that families can do.
One option is to team up with your “pod” or whoever your family is still interacting with and visit each other’s houses for an abbreviated round of trick-or-treating.
Another option, if you don’t wish to answer your door this Halloween, is to lay out pre-wrapped candies, spaced appropriately, that kids can access for a contact-less trick-or-treating experience.
Whatever your comfort level, there are various opportunities in Big Sky to safely enjoy Halloween this year. Happy Halloween!