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O‘ahu adjusts to a physically distanced Halloween

Kids and young adults didn’t let the pandemic stop them from celebrating Halloween this year. Oʻahu’s Halloween festivities included a drive-through haunted house and a drive-in movie and live music event

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Aloha Stadium Halloween Honolulu, Hawai‘i

A car stops by a stall at the Aloha Stadium Trunk and Treat Drive-Thru event on Halloween evening, October 31, 2020.

With open trunks, hundreds of cars lined up in the Aloha Stadium parking lot on Halloween as children and adults in festive costumes confined to their cars stopped by each stall to pick up their treats.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made way for people to showcase their creativity in celebrating seasonal festivities and occasions. This year, Halloween was celebrated with drive-through trick-or-treats and a haunted house as well as a drive-in music event. Families still partook in decorating their houses with their family members and eating candy in the comfort of their homes.

haunted Drive-thru, Honolulu, Hawai‘i

Actors wait for incoming cars at the state’s first drive-thru haunted house hosted by Habilitat Hawaii at Aloha Stadium on October 29, 2020

The state Department of Health and U.S. Centers for Disease Control previously recommended pausing traditional house-to-house trick-or-treating for this Halloween. Health officials encouraged people to abstain from direct human touch such as personally handing out treats to children.

O’ahu is currently under the Tier 2 reopening strategy and hoping to work towards Tier 3. Tier 2 allows for social gatherings of up to five people. Although the city’s Halloween guidance mentioned that a trick-or-treating group must not surpass five people including parents and young children, Mayor Kirk Caldwell advised against it and rather recommended households to celebrate at home.

Halloween 2020, Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawai‘i

Residents and visitors gather at Waikiki with festive costumes on Halloween night, October 31, 2020.

In a press conference on Oct. 29, Mayor Caldwell said, “Halloween is a fun holiday, but right now we got to put public health and safety ahead of fun, It doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate within our family unit, doesn’t mean we can’t dress up, doesn’t mean we can’t carve a pumpkin, doesn’t mean we can’t share candy with our keiki. But really, I’m asking as mayor, we’re in Tier 2 trying to work toward Tier 3.” At Tier 3, social gatherings of up to 10 individuals will be allowed.

Throughout the whole week leading up to Halloween day, Oʻahu residents were seen adjusting to the changes. Although the “don’ts” for Halloween this year included outdoor and non-drive thru activities, there were enough ways to celebrate the event in non-traditional ways.

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Stall members putting trick-or-treats in the trunk of the incoming vehicles during the Aloha Stadium Trunk and Treat Drive-Thru event Halloween evening, October 31, 2020.

The drive-through culture

The drive-thru option is treated as a savior in light of COVID-19. Throughout this pandemic, it is one of the safest ways to conduct a festival, activity or service.

Aloha Stadium, illuminated with spooky-themed colors, hosted a “Trunk and Treat Drive-Thru” event from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m, which featured over 30 Hawaiʻi businesses from all around the island. Over 1830 trick-or-treaters came through to receive their individually wrapped treats. Families were asked to remain in the cars with closed windows.

Aloha Stadium Drive-thru,Honolulu, Hawai‘i

Children wearing face masks look forward to getting their treats during the Aloha Stadium Trunk and Treat Drive-Thru event Halloween evening, October 31, 2020.

In previous years, there have been many haunted houses on O‘ahu that residents can walk through to enjoy jumpscares to feel the Halloween vibe.

However, the pandemic has switched the walk-thru haunted house option with a drive-thru. The CDC stated that, “Going to an indoor haunted house where people may be crowded together and screaming” is considered a high-risk event that lacks social distancing and can spread COVID-19.

Haunted Drive Thru, Honolulu, Hawai‘i

Actors scare incoming cars at the state’s first drive-thru haunted house hosted by Habilitat Hawaii at Aloha Stadium on October 29, 2020

In order to arrange a spooky haunted house experience, Habilitat Hawaii initiated the state’s first drive-thru haunted house at Aloha Stadium. As of Oct. 29, about 2500 cars with approximately 10,000 people drove through the haunted house. Previously, all their shows were sold out.

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Haunted drive-thru actor Veronica and Latai help each other to prepare for the beginning of the show on October 29, 2020.

The event required the incoming passengers to abide by the safety protocols, which included not exiting the vehicle and keeping the windows closed.

There were 50 actors working in six different scenes of the show situated in the parking lot of the stadium. The haunted-house actors are Habilitat Hawaii residents.

Drive-in Movie, Honolulu, Hawai‘i

Aloha Drive-In movies in partnership with Hawaii International Film Festival transformed the parking section between Neiman Marcus and Macy's at Ala Moana Center into an outdoor theater. The viewing space feature a 30-foot LED screen, with enough space to fit 83 vehicles, socially distanced.

Drive-in festivities

The drive-in culture was not confined to trick-or-treating or haunted houses. On Oct. 30 and 31st, the American Renaissance Academy hosted Halloween Haunt, a drive-in event at the Kapolei Event Center with three electronic dance music DJs on each night, followed by a screening of the horror movie “Insidious” on Friday night and “Insidious 2” on Saturday night.

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Electronic dance music DJ Deuxces performs for head banging concert goers near their cara at the Kapolei Event Center Friday night, October 30. The American Renaissance Academy hosted a two day drive-in EDM event, followed by horror movies.

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People like Sydney Bryshayn and his family brought pillows and blankets to enjoy a movie time from their truck at the drive-in movie show by Aloha Drive-In Movies at Ala Moana Center on October 30, 2020.

This is the latest in a series of drive-in music and movie events hosted by the American Renaissance Academy as a part of their Halloween Month campaign.

Social distancing guidelines were enforced, including limiting cars to five people regardless of whether those people are from the same household. Cars were parked with enough space for people to stand and dance in the area immediately next to their car, and every person who was outside their car was wearing a face covering. Additionally, attendees could tune into a radio station and listen to the live performance from the comfort of their parked car.

UHM third-year law student Ariel Ashe said, “It was nice to see the community again, we’re a really close-knit EDM community on the island.” Most people were happy to attend a live event for the first time since the COVID pandemic started. “It felt like I was returning to my happy place, PLUR is the way of our community. It represents peace, love, unity and respect.”

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Honolulu resident Lloyd Richardson (L) and Mariah Pennington (R) share a kiss before the movie at a drive-in movie show by Aloha Drive-In Movies at Ala Moana Center on October 30, 2020.

Aloha Drive-In Movies in partnership with Hawaii International Film Festival transformed the parking section between Neiman Marcus and Macy's at Ala Moana Center into an outdoor theater. The viewing space features a 30-foot LED screen, with enough space to fit 83 socially distanced vehicles.

The drive-in movies will run through Nov. 20.

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A wide view of the Halloween decorations in Chuck Martin’s front lawn. 

Decorations galore

Tucked away on King Street, Donovan Gomes and his partner Chelsea Ramsay decorated their house for Halloween for the fourth year in a row. “We were excited, the kids had a rough year so it was nice setting this up for them,” Ramsay said. 

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Home owners Donovan Gomes and Chelsea Ramsay poses for a portrait infront of their decorated house located on King St. on October 27, 2020.

In addition to the traditional Halloween decorations like Jack-O-Lanterns, a large light-up spider and an ominous zombie farmer, Gomes set up a projector to screen TV shows and movies like “The Mandalorian” and “Hocus Pocus.” 

Gomes and Ramsay decorate their house every year, accumulating more decorations for a grander set up the following year. Gomes said, “we don’t get many trick-or-treaters because we’re on such a busy street, but we do it for the neighboring kids, and our friends and family.”

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Located on King Street, Donovan Gomes and Chelsea Ramsay decorate their house each year for Halloween, adding more decorations for a bigger display the following year. This past Saturday, October 31st, Gomes and Ramsay hosted local children and friends, screening movies like Hocus Pocus, and passing out Halloween candy."

While Gomes said he was unsure how he plans to elevate their decorations even further next year, Gomes and Ramsay confirmed that they will continue the tradition. Gomes and Ramsay also plan to decorate their house for Christmas, providing some holiday spirit in a year overshadowed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Like Gomes and Ramsey, Chuck Martin, a 1974 UHM alumnus, did not forget to decorate his house in East Oʻahu with pumpkins and superhero characters. 

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Chuck Martin, a 1974 UHM Alumni, stands amongst his decorated yard for Halloween, a two day setup. His favorite pieces are the pumpkin faces shown in the above photo. He’s hand crafted and painted each wood carving decoration set up in his yard. With multiple storage lockers full of decorations, he also decorates his yard for other major holidays such as Christmas, 4th of July, and thanksgiving. Chuck’s current projects are working on an 8ft grinch and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. 

Although his children are getting older, he plans to continue the decorations for a few more years and the pandemic became more of a reason to continue the spooky tradition. 

Martin handcrafts many of his holiday decorations. Some of his favorite pieces are the pumpkin faces shown in the photo above. He has handcrafted and painted each wood carving decoration set up in his yard. 

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Families from around the island admire the elaborate Halloween yard decorations at Chuck Martin’s home. October 24th, 2020 East Oahu, 240 Panio Street.

With multiple storage lockers full of decorations, Martin looks forward to decorating his yard for  Thanksgiving, Christmas and the Fourth of July. He is preparing for Christmas by sculpting an 8-foot Grinch and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. 

Halloween Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawai‘i

Visitors gathered to see a street performance at Kalakaua Ave, Waikiki on Halloween night, October 31, 2020.

Same old Waikīkī

Every year on Halloween, Waikīkī sees a record number of people flooding the streets in the wildest of costumes migrating from one bar to another. It is thought to be the busiest night of the year. Not surprisingly, Waikīkī saw its fewest number of people compared to past Halloween nights. Although people were seen wearing face masks, some continued to gather in large groups.

Halloween Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawai‘i

Visitors dressed as “Happy WTF year” on the Waikiki street on Halloween night, October 31, 2020.

Halloween Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawai‘i

Visitors dressed as “Covid Police” and Quarantine Breaker” on the Waikiki street on Halloween night, October 31, 2020.

Honolulu police officers patrolled Waikīkī, encouraging residents and visitors to follow COVID-19 restrictions by enforcing facial coverings and dispersing large groups of people. Sidewalks and parts of beach entrances were barricaded on Kalakaua Avenue to prevent street parking and gathering.