Carving New Traditions

Frightful fun can still be found 

By Kathy Knotts 

Halloween is nearly upon us. It may be the scariest yet… or simply the most complicated.  

Parents are wondering how best to navigate what has become the second-most popular American holiday, and homeowners are wondering if any trick-or-treaters will come a-knocking. No need to fear; Halloween will still happen, but how you honor this spooky Saturday may require some creative thinking. 

The Centers for Disease Control and the Anne Arundel County Health Department have advised that children avoid traditional trick-or-treating this Halloween, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Instead they encourage family-centered activities such as scavenger hunts, virtual costume contests, pumpkin carving and Halloween movie marathons (see for our recommendations). 

For those who are dead-set on parading through neighborhoods in search of treats, experts say approved masks should still be worn (don’t use costume masks), and there should be minimal contact with those outside your household. Creative minds are coming up with ways to deliver goodies to children without having lots of hands dipping into one candy bowl. From individual treat bags to PVC-candy chutes, be on the lookout for some ingenious candy delivery methods. 

Additional tips: 

  • Consider Halloween-themed face coverings over costume masks. Do not share masks, fangs or similar items. Note: Costume masks have mouth and nose holes and don’t provide the same protection as face coverings. Costume masks on top of cloth masks can be dangerous and limit breathing. 
  • Bring alcohol-based hand sanitizer when trick or treating. 
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth, as germs can spread that way. 
  • Children should not reach into candy bowls or bags. Candy should be given out using a scoop or tongs, so the candy is not directly handled. 
  • Consider providing individually wrapped goodie bags on a table at the edge of the driveway or yard. When preparing and handing out treats, be sure to follow proper hand hygiene. 
  • Avoid parties and party games like bobbing for apples. 
  • When returning home with treats, children should wash hands properly with soap and water before eating anything. 

High-risk activities that are discouraged this year include hay rides, haunted houses, festivals and large-scale trunk-or-treats. 

So what’s left to enjoy? Thankfully there is still plenty of ghoulish fun to be had in the region. Here are a few events that haven’t completely sold out or are free to participate.  

Around Annapolis 

Downtown Annapolis gets into the spooky spirit. Help fill a truck with canned foods, non-perishable foods, new socks, and toiletries for those in need. Drop off your donations at the BUD Truck October 31 from 11 am to 1 pm on Market Space next to the Annapolis Market House. Donated items will be given to the Anne Arundel County Food Bank to be shared with local food pantries. 

While you are downtown this week be sure to enter the Great Annapolis Pumpkin Contest by taking your picture with any of the three massive pumpkins located near Lemongrass Restaurant, St. Anne’s Church, and Zachary’s Jewelers. Post your pictures on Instagram or Facebook and tag #GreatAnnapolisPumpkin to be entered for a chance to win gift cards to local restaurants.  

The dark tale of Bram Stoker’s legendary vampire lives on through Ballet Theatre of Maryland’s blend of sensuous dancing and gripping theatrical performance. See dancers perform on an outdoor stage at the Maryland Theatre for the Performing Arts in two performances (2pm & 6:30pm) Friday and Saturday. Bring lawn seating and come in costume, or stream it live at home.

Although the Hammond-Harwood House cannot host its traditional Pumpkin Walk this year, the historic home is asking guests to bring a decorated pumpkin to add to the pumpkin patch on the front lawn (19 Maryland Ave.). Friday, from noon-4pm, visitors can pick up a pre-packed goodie bag, play scavenger hunt, take photos and post on social media. Watch storyteller Andrea Lovett for a frighteningly tame story and a few belly laughs in the online video telling of The Ghost with the One Black Eye by visiting 

If you want to celebrate with your pet, you are in luck. The SPCA of Anne Arundel County just added more ticket times to their first-ever Trick or Treat Trail. The nature trail on the SPCA grounds is transformed for a family-friendly Halloween experience in the woods. Dress up, and bring your pets along. Costumes are encouraged and face masks are required. No scary frights, only fun & spooky festivities, and nothing will jump up or pop-out at you or your pets. Tickets available for Saturday afternoon: 

Anne Arundel County 

If a haunted forest sounds more your style, head to Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary Friday (4-8pm) for their Haunted Hike. Join staff and volunteers for a haunted walk through the forest, Halloween candy, campfire and s’mores, hayrides, and nature crafts. Activities will be staggered for each group. Please wear masks, bring a headlamp or flashlight, and wear a costume if you have one; $6 per vehicle, no pets. RSVP:  410-222-8006 or e-mail [email protected]

If Halloween to you is just a precursor to Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, then head to the Chesapeake Arts Center in Brooklyn Park Saturday. There are four time slots to choose from to make your own Calavera Ceramic Tile (noon-1:30pm, $5). Learn about the rich history of this holiday from the instructors, then paint sugar skull (calavera) inspired tiles outside, in front of Hammonds Theatre. RSVP:

Calvert & St. Mary’s Counties 

North Beach Mayor Benton and town council members and staff will hand out candy throughout the town Halloween night (6-8pm) and also judge businesses and homes that are decorated for the holiday. Upload photos of your costume with the #NorthBeachHalloween to join the virtual costume contest. 

In Prince Frederick, the Magic Tunnel Car Wash becomes the Magic Tunnel of Terror for the weekend. During the event, staff will dress up in costumes and interact with customers as they ride through the car wash. Car washes start at $7 each and candy will be given to each person and child who enters. Thursday thru Sunday, 5:30-9pm. 

Stop by Historic Sotterley in Hollywood during normal visitation hours Friday and Saturday in costume for a scavenger hunt around the property. After you fill in the sheet you can turn it in for a bag of treats before you leave. Photos of yourself in costume can be entered into Sotterley’s Facebook page contest to win a prize. Children can play in the haybale area on the front field and you can buy Sotterley-grown pumpkins to take home. On FSa nights, watch virtual spooky stories created by Ghosts of Sotterley actors posted on Sotterley’s Facebook, website, and YouTube channel. For more information visit, Sotterley’s Facebook page, or call 301-373-2280. 

Whatever you choose to do, stay safe and stay spooky! Send us your photos: [email protected] or on Facebook.