How to keep Halloween happy, even in a pandemic

Ottawa's medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches has nixed trick-or-treating this Oct. 31. So now what's a ghoul to do?

With trick-or-treating cancelled in Ottawa, what's a ghoul to do?

The Community Activities Group of Old Ottawa East is hosting a virtual pumpkin carving contest along with a variety of other online activities this Halloween. (CBC)

UPDATE | The Ottawa Senators have cancelled this year's drive-thru event and will instead deliver Halloween boxes to schools and youth organizations.

Ottawa's medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches has nixed trick-or-treating this Oct. 31. So now what? How do you capture the spooky spirit of Halloween without the parties, parades and door-to-door candy collecting? 

We've got a few fun ideas for you and your family. 

Snuggle up with a spooky movie

A scary flick can help set the mood for the night.

Peter Thompson, owner at Movies 'n Stuff in Alta Vista, suggests the recently released Happy Halloween, Scooby-Doo! as a good pick for the younger kids. He said that's what his eight-year-old will be watching. "Not too scary, but still a little bit creepy," is how Thompson describes it.

Peter Thompson at Movies 'n Stuff says the new Scooby-Doo film is a great choice for getting younger kids into the Halloween spirit. (WarnerBros)

For older children, Thompson said the 1993 Bette Midler film Hocus Pocus is "a huge favourite at Halloween every year." He also recommends Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas or Beetlejuice — both fun and still pretty tame. 

For adults looking for an alternative to that cancelled Halloween party, the 1968 horror classic Rosemary's Baby holds up  well, Thompson said, adding that he's also a big fan of the 2007 cult classic Trick 'r Treat. "My wife and I watch it every Halloween," he said.

So grab that bowl of popcorn and bag of candy and settle in for some frights.

Monstrous munchies

Or maybe munch on some pumpkins and gravestones from Aux Delices Bakery in the ByWard Market. Owner Nakita Gomes has ready-made Halloween-themed cookies, and also sells DIY kits for customers to add their own decorative flair.

Gomes recommends picking up some takeout on Halloween and then taking home a cookie kit so "you can play with your dessert afterwards."

Haunted at home

The Community Activities Group of Ottawa East is putting on a virtual Halloween party on Oct. 31, which includes a zombie makeup workshop, a pumpkin carving contest and Spooktacular Creepy stories for younger children, along with a "costume showcase" on Zoom.

Nivethine Mahendran, co-director of programs for the group, said with kids missing out on trick-or-treating this year, the costume showcase could help restore some of that lost excitement. 

The events are open to anyone who wants to participate, but registration is required.

Some families are going all out with the Halloween decorations this year as the pandemic puts a damper on many activities. (Pat Martel/CBC)

For more mature ghost stories, join in on some live scary storytelling at Virtual Haunted Campfires, a series featuring ghost researchers and performers who share terrifying tales of haunted jails and wartime ghosts. 

For the brave-hearted, The Haunted Walk, which normally leads tours around Ottawa, also offers an interactive audio experience called The Haunting at Home that sets you up to run your own paranormal experiments without leaving your front door. 

    Halloween on 4 wheels

    You will definitely want to keep your car doors locked for the Deadwood Haunted Drive experience at Wesley Clover Parks. Participants will navigate through six horror scenes that tell the "blood curdling story of the Deadwood Massacre." 

    The spectacle features live actors, special effects, lights and sound, all designed to freak you out. From Oct. 15 to 31. 

    The Ottawa Senators are also hosting a drive-thru event called Sparty's Safe and Not So Scary Halloween Party, designed for the faint(er) of heart. The party takes place outside Canadian Tire Centre on Oct. 31. It's free, but you must register to get a timed ticket.

    Shoppers look through the colourful array of squashes at the Atwater Market in Montreal. (Jean-Claude Taliana/Radio-Canada)

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