Friday, April 19, 2024

Pandemic-Style Halloween Fun Might Look Different, But the Holiday is Not Cancelled

Getting in the Halloween spirit on Glorietta Blvd. Photo: Coronado Times

The answer to the often-heard question “Will Halloween be cancelled this year?” is a resounding “NO” with new and creative ways to make this fun and highly anticipated holiday enjoyable for the whole family. Parents always consider safety when it comes to Halloween, choosing the safest neighborhoods for their children to trick or treat, but 2020 takes the word safety to a whole new level.

The pandemic has made this year tough on kids as they adjusted to distance learning, lack of social interaction, and the cancelling of most of their favorite activities; and they need something fun to look forward to. Dressing up in creative costumes is a great escape, but it is important to note that costume masks do not replace the need for cloth facial coverings over the nose and mouth. Experts say there are safe ways to celebrate Halloween, but it will certainly look different than in the past.

Halloween is still on in Coronado with the city and Coronado MainStreet coming up with an innovative Trick-or-Treat drive-thru, called Coronado Goes Ghostly, for up to 300 cars at one location in the Cays and one in the Village on Saturday, October 31 from 2 to 6 pm. There will be photo opportunities along the route and home movie cards and goodie bags for all children. Reservations must be made and resident registration opens on October 14, with non-resident registration beginning October 26. Choose your location and 20-minute timeslot by phone at 619-522-7342 or email [email protected].

Also put on by the city and MainStreet, starting Friday, Oct. 9, the community may share their creative spirit by taking part in several social media Halloween contests. The contests are: Most Impressive Pumpkin Decorating; Most Delightful Howl-o-Ween Pet Costume; Most Haunting Home Decor; Most Creative Kids Costume; and Best Group Costume. Submit photos to [email protected] or through social media to the City of Coronado Recreation Services page on Facebook or recreate_coronado on Instagram. Contests end November 1, with prizes awarded to the top winners on November 6.

Get your pets set for this year’s PAWS “Howloween” celebration on Sunday, October 25 from 12 to 4 pm, which will include professional pet photography, a pumpkin carving contest and more. The event is free with the donation of a collar, leash, or toy in good condition. Masks are required and social distancing will be enforced.

The Hotel del Coronado will offer spooky night bonfires under the stars from October 16 through October 21 from 5:30 to 8 pm. During the Ghost Roast, Kate Morgan will tell her tragic tale as guests enjoy s’mores around a beach bonfire. Participants can also order munchies from a set menu. For more information, check out

The city will also support COVID-safe special events during the month of October, in collaboration with MainStreet and other Coronado-based organizations. Margarita Avenue will not be closed off to vehicle traffic this year to discourage door-to-door trick-or-treating. Several Margarita Avenue residents that I spoke with said that many of their neighbors will not be participating this year, but a few are looking for ways to provide a socially distanced experience. The city encourages low-risk Halloween activities and discourages high-risk virus spreading events.

In order to respect social distancing guidelines and the health and safety of those around you, check out the CDC holiday safety guidelines with risk assessments. Additionally, the County of San Diego has detailed safe ways to celebrate. More details at the bottom of this article.

Coronado usually goes all out for Halloween with a myriad of spooky festivities: the closure to automobiles on Margarita Avenue busting with ghoulish decorations and goblins galore, URT Spook Costume Surf, thousands of kids and adults trick or treating at “Downtown Goes Ghostly” where local businesses on Orange Avenue have been handing out treats for more than 20 years, Halloween Happenings for families sponsored by the Recreation and Golf Services, The Del’s annual Hallo-wine party, and even a scary walk-through asylum in the 800 block of H Avenue, and the ever-popular showcase of kids’ creativity with the Coronado Junior Woman’s Club Window Decorating (which is still happening — the kids will paint the windows on October 25). Even though many of these are cancelled, there is still lots of fun to be had, and you can get the whole family involved coming up with creative ways to celebrate.

A Few Fun Fall Ideas Outside of Coronado ~

Show your Padres pride with a Padres-themed decorated pumpkin. Enter it in the #PadresPumpkins contest on Twitter or Instagram for a chance to win a Padres prize pack. Get details and the pumpkin stencils on the Padres Fans website.

succulent pumpkins
Image: Library’s 2019 autumn craft event

Bates Nut Farm has been providing family fun for more than 90 years in Valley Center and this year is no exception. A variety of pumpkins: Big Macs, Ghost, Cinderella, Jack-O-Lanterns, minis, squash, and gourds, and other fall décor can be found throughout this 100-acre ranch. After checking out the pumpkin patch, don’t miss the candy, nuts, and treats at the store. Kids can enjoy pony rides, a petting zoo and straw maze, a scarecrow contest, a Howl-o-Ween doggie costume contest and parade, and weekends bring an array of food trucks. They have late nights on Thursday, October 15 and Friday, October 16. For all the details, visit their website at

Julian apple picking can include gathering the family to pick your own apples right out of the orchard. Although most of the farms have already closed for u-pick this season, some locations still sell fresh apples and produce. Enjoy the quaint town of Julian and pick up your favorite variety of apple pie and check out the candy stores for kids and adults alike.  Check out

Pumpkin Station will have pumpkin patches, rides, and petting zoos at their Rancho Bernardo, Mission Valley and Bonita (not Plaza Bonita) locations this year, but not at their Del Mar and National City (Plaza Bonita) sites. Check out all the safe fun at

SeaWorld Spooktacular  Families looking for Halloween fun can enjoy physically distanced dance parties, all new cookie decorating with Cookie Monster and Elmo, fall flavor-inspired menu items and candy (of course), from October 2 through November 1. For more information, go to

Haunted Aquarium Remix runs the whole month of October and takes spooky science fun outdoors with new animal encounters and activities for kids ages 2 through 10, with fun décor for the whole family. Get the details at

Drive-Thru Scream Zone runs through October 31 and showcases San Diego’s favorite fright fest, the Scream Zone, in a drive-thru experience — not for the faint of heart, at the Del Mar “Scaregrounds.” More scary details available at

Halloween graveyard on Fifth Street. Photo: Coronado Times

We checked in to see what costumes are popular this year and discovered the ever-beloved dinosaurs and superheroes are still hits, as well as Harley Quinn, Super Mario, Little Avocados, Fortnite characters, and health care workers, to name a few. Looking on the bright side, most of us are going to save a bundle of money not buying our usual enormous candy supply to hand out to the throngs of trick or treaters. Families in the U.S. generally spend more than $2.6 billion on candy for Halloween.

Let’s celebrate this Halloween together safely.

From the CDC website:

These lower risk Halloween activities can be safe alternatives:

  • Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household and displaying them
  • Carving or decorating pumpkins outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends
  • Decorating your house, apartment, or living space
  • Doing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house admiring Halloween decorations at a distance
  • Having a virtual Halloween costume contest
  • Having a Halloween movie night with people you live with
  • Having a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home rather than going house to house

Not allowed/recommended activities:

  • Door-to-door trick or treating
  • Haunted houses
  • In-person gatherings and events, (block parties, festivals, live entertainment)

Editor’s Note:

October 8 – Article was updated to include additional details about Coronado Goes Ghostly.

October 12 – Article was updated to include additional details about the social media photo submission contests.

Jennifer Velez
Jennifer Velez
Jennifer fell in love with Coronado as a teenager while visiting a college friend. She vowed that someday she would make it her home, and that dream has recently become a reality. Fast forward through completing college with a BA in Journalism, Public Relations and Communications, she then went on to work with a variety of clients. She also taught Journalism and coordinated fundraising for her children’s school, and was a staff writer for San Diego Family Magazine and contributed to other parenting publications. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]

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