By Molly Butler

The Mankato area faces an unusual Halloween season. As kids trade their protective masks for spooky ones, parents and guardians are searching for new traditions. With COVID-19 precautions and health concerns on everyone’s mind, the community is getting creative to provide a safe and spooky time for all.

Tricky-treating

One alternative to traditional door-to-door candy hunting is Trunk-or-Treating. On Oct. 24, Peace Lutheran Church will host its third annual Trunk-or-Treat event. Free and open to the public, everything at the event will take place outdoors this year. There will be decorated trunks, pick a pumpkin, hayrides, raffles and more. Those interested in decorating their trunk and providing treats can sign up here.

On Halloween day, Connecting Commerce and North Mankato businesses will host their second Trick-or-Treat event from 4-6 p.m. Participating businesses will have orange and black balloons outside. Plus, Ignition Fitness & Sports will have a Ninja Warrior Course from 2-4 p.m. to work out some of the sugary energy. Keep an eye on its Event Page for updates.

Trick or treating is something we can still do safely. It’s good to see kids and families laughing and having a good time. Cherre Metcalf

Cherre Metcalf of Indulge Salon said the event is an easy way to connect local families and businesses.

“Trick or treating is something we can still do safely,” Metcalf said. “It’s good to see kids and families laughing and having a good time. At Indulge, we will have our treats outside to avoid a bottleneck.”

Then ghouls and goblins can head right down the hill to participate in the North Mankato Taylor Library’s fourth annual Trunk-or-Treat in its parking lot. (Gloves are required for anyone handing out candy.)

“With COVID, we thought it was more important than ever to offer this program,” said Hallie Uhrich, the library’s program and outreach librarian. “This year, since Halloween is on a Saturday and the city buildings will be closed, we can use the entire parking lot. Vehicles will be spread out, and we will have one-way foot traffic. There will be arrows and signs to tell people which way to go around the parking lot, so we hopefully don’t have people crossing paths.”

Store It on Basset Drive in Mankato is hosting a Spook-Tacular event from 2-7 p.m. on Oct. 30. Its indoor, climate-controlled facility will offer a safe environment for local businesses to sponsor and decorate storage units and hand out pre-packaged treats or giveaways. One-way traffic will prevent groups from crossing paths, and masks are required indoors. This event is free, but participants are encouraged to bring food items to donate for the BackPack Food Program.

Four-legged monsters

Kids aren’t the only ones craving treats. Area pets can get in on the holiday spirit. The 20th annual PAWS Trick or Treat Walk on Oct. 24 will fundraise to assist in care and medical expenses for local stray and surrendered animals. The walk begins at 10 a.m. Any participant who makes a donation of $20 or more will receive a bag to collect prizes throughout the walk. Donors of $35 or more will receive a walk t-shirt. Pet costumes are encouraged but not mandatory, so no worries if Fido chews up his costume. Registration materials are available at the St. Peter city office, the St. Peter Police Department or Kind Veterinary Clinic. Same-day registration is also available starting at 9:30 a.m.

I have done two Dogs Night Out events now, and the people that did attend really enjoyed it and wanted me to keep it going. Hallie Uhrich

Then from 5-6 p.m. on Oct. 27, the North Mankato Taylor Library will host a Pet Costume Party (dogs only). Meet at the Spring Lake shelter #2 and follow the directions provided in the Event Page to be entered for a Pet Expo gift card giveaway.

“I have done two Dogs Night Out events now, and the people that did attend really enjoyed it and wanted me to keep it going,” said Uhrich, who also organized this event.

Cat owners can participate in the online event and enter to win by posting a video of their cat doing a trick as well.

Arts and crafts

Front steps are empty without pumpkins and scarecrows this time of year. Many local businesses are creating ways to keep the spooky spirit alive. GO Therapy of St. Peter will host a community Scarecrow Contest, Oct. 26-31. Scarecrows will be displayed outside its building on Sunrise Drive along the biking path. Visitors can walk and vote. Those wishing to participate and display their scarecrow can contact Abbe at abbee@gotherapy.com.

Vagabond Village will host a Family Halloween Bash from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Oct. 24. For the kids there will be pumpkin painting, treats and a costume contest at 2 p.m. Shoppers can get $10 winter coats, 50 percent off costumes and props, and more. Tickets are available here.

All mediums are welcome. We’ve had work range from sculptures, paintings, drawings, prints… We take it all. Dana Sikkila

The 410 Project will show The Annual Halloween Exhibition from Oct. 23 through Nov. 1, featuring Halloween and harvest-themed works by area artists.

“We’ve had The Annual Halloween Exhibition since 2003,” said Executive Director Dana Sikkila. “All mediums are welcome. We’ve had work range from sculptures, paintings, drawings, prints… We take it all.”

Family friendly fun

If you’re looking for some fun for the whole family this Halloween, there are several options for you. South Central College will host a drive-in movie night with a showing of “Hocus Pocus” on Oct. 30. Just make sure you don’t stay out too late; a spooky showing of “Insidious” begins at 9 p.m.

Many area businesses will also be hosting individual deals and events. Pippi Lane Boutique of Waseca will host its first Oktoberfest Oct. 21-24. There will be deals, prizes and fall finds for home and wardrobe. Cookie Dough Bliss will be parked in the lot with edible cookie dough.

We will be open with treats (no tricks) for all. There will be stickers and candy for kids [and more]. Tracy Cummings

The Lake Crystal Area Rec Center is hosting its first ever Halloween Hustle Virtual 5k this year. Run or walk at your own pace, alone or with the family, any time between Oct. 26 and Nov. 1. Register to run here. Price includes an event t-shirt.

Meanwhile, Christy’s Crystals in Mankato is hosting its own event from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 31. According to business partner Tracy Cummings, “We will be open with treats (no tricks) for all. There will be stickers and candy for kids, free grab bags for the first purchase of each hour and a chance to win a grand prize of items from Christy’s, Black Pearl Moon, Hope and Healing Magic, and Becky’s Boutique, including a psychic reading from Christy herself.”

Thrills and chills

It wouldn’t be Halloween without a little bit of fright. Some staples of the scare business, like Northern Frights at the Blue Earth County Fairgrounds, are closed for the season due to COVID-19 concerns. But other businesses are trying to find creative solutions to give visitors a scare this year.

Snell Auto Wash will make sure to keep its thrills clean. Its Haunted Car Wash starts at 7 p.m. Oct. 23, 24, 29 and 30. For $15 per wash, participants will leave with racing hearts and a shiny car. Part of proceeds will be donated to the BackPack Food Program.

The Mill Pond Haunted Drive-Thru is on through Oct. 24. Pile in the car and enter near 300 South Front Street in St. Peter. The event is just $25 per car and is open from 7-11 p.m. Proceeds go to maintain the Nicollet County Snowmobile Trails as well as local clubs and organizations that help volunteer at the event.

The WineCafe on Riverfront will host a Halloween Maskerade celebrating Halloween, the full moon and the last day of the cafe’s extended temporary patio. Attendants are encouraged to dress warm and spooky and enjoy some spiked hot cider under the moon.

Something for everyone

With a little reimagining and creativity, the Mankato community is prepared to have a spooky but safe Halloween season.

Author

  • Molly Butler

    is a writer, gardener, and animal lover. She returned to the Mankato area after completing her MFA in Creative Writing at Hamline University.

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