Safe spooky fun: Deptford Township plans array of Halloween activities with eye on COVID

Halloween may look a little different this year, but Deptford Township is doing its best to ensure the holiday is still full of spooky and safe entertainment.

“It’s certainly a challenging time. You have to be careful because COVID-19 is real. It’s not going away this year,” Mayor Paul Medany said. “We just want to offer (residents) some hope and encouragement and some fun.”

That fun begins on Friday, Oct. 16, with a free showing of “The Addams Family” movie at 7 p.m. at Fasola Park. Attendees can bring their own snacks, blankets and chairs, and also must wear masks and social distance according to Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines. Those interested must RSVP by Oct. 12; email  deptfordparksandrec@deptford-nj.org.

Returning is the township’s traditional Halloween House Decorating Contest. Awards will be given to first- , second- and third-place winners, and judging is planned for Oct. 28 (weather permitting).

“It’s really cool some of the things they put out there,” Medany said. “We have quite a few families who participate. This year, we’re hoping to have the same. You can do this and still stay safe.”

Contest entry forms are available on the township’s website at www.deptford-nj.org and must be returned to the Parks & Recreation Department by Oct. 23.

New this year is a Scarecrow Contest held by the Wellness Committee in conjunction with Wellness Week Oct. 19 to 23. Scarecrow entries can be dropped off at the municipal building between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Oct. 23. Awards will be given to the top winners.

“We’re hoping to display them around town,” Medany noted, adding that with school being remote right now, it’s a challenging time for parents.

“We thought this would create a little excitement.”

For several years now, Deptford has hosted a popular Trunk or Treat event for Halloween. Knowing they couldn’t keep the same format this year, organizers from the township, Parks and Recreation Department and events committee figured out another way to make it happen.

The inaugural Drive-Thru Trunk or Treat is from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 29, at the Deptford Rec Center, 52 Montague Lane. The free fun is for Deptford children ages 2 to 12. Attendees must stay in vehicles and wear a mask, and as they drive through the event in costume, they can roll down their windows to receive treats. Decorated trunks will be hosted by Medany and council members, the Deptford Police Department, Deptford Fire Department, Public Works, Municipal Utilities Authority (MUA), Parks and Recreation, Deptford Public Library, local business and sports organizations. Registration is required by emailing deptfordparksandrec@deptford-nj.org by Oct. 19. Include how many 2- to 12-year-olds will attend. Registration will close at 600 children.

The township’s trailers, usually used for hayrides at the annual fall festival, will have a new use this year due to the festival’s cancelation. Medany said the township plans to host Halloween parades around Deptford neighborhoods, with volunteers from public works, the police department and the township dressed up to deliver spooky cheer aboard the decorated, lighted trailers.

“It’s kind of like how Santa Claus goes around town,” Medany said. “We’re going to do it with Halloween characters. I thought it was a really unique idea.”

The schedule is still being finalized and will be posted to the township’s website soon.

Trick or treating is still in play this year, too. Hours are 3 to 8 p.m. on Halloween, Saturday, Oct. 31, and the township suggests those who do not want to give out candy  turn off front lights, close doors and post a sign that directs revelers away from their house.

“Follow the governor’s guidelines,” Medany reminded. “We hope everyone enjoys themselves. Let’s get things moving, and let’s stay safe.”