Halloween at Augustana to look different this year

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Sarah Walton

The arrival of the fall season seems to spark a new energy into the Augustana community. The sighting of changing leaves along the slough path. The emergence of fall season apparel as well as the buzz that begins to spread all over campus.
The presence of COVID-19 has played a large role in affecting the way our community has proceeded through these uncertain times. Between formatting courses to allow for smaller class sizes to keeping groups to 10 or less, it is difficult to comprehend a way that people can celebrate Halloween in a normal manner.
Nevertheless, students and faculty members have been presented with the task of creatively commemorating Halloween with adapted plans and new experiences.
Over the years, various clubs and organizations have established annual Halloween traditions that bring together its members for a night of fun.
Alpha Psi Omega, the theater service fraternity on campus, has been putting on a shadowcast rendition of  “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” for audiences over the past six years. However due to social distancing rules, the tradition will have to be modified.
“We’re still trying to figure out a way to reconfigure Rocky Horror in a socially distant way.” Alpha Psi President, Virgil Hajdys, said when asked about the current status of the production.
Thankfully, other organizations are also very open to adapting their plans due to the circumstances and embracing the new guidelines in a safe way.
Augustana’s Disney Club has been known to throw a spectacular party in the past, complete with a Halloweentown movie showing, delicious snacks, fun group games and costumes. However, due to the undetermined future of the virus and its regulations over the next month, the group has come up with two options just in case.
“We have an online plan and then we have a more in-person plan,” said President Eva Schmitt. “What we are kind of thinking is doing a movie marathon like last year [but online]… maybe we will do Halloweentown again or Hocus Pocus. Otherwise, our in-person plan would be to rent out an auditorium and spread people out and host activities similar to last year.”
Of course, Halloween at Augustana manifests in another sacred place: the residence halls. Each residence hall on campus has a special quality that sets them apart from one another. And for Andreen Hall, it occurs during the spooky season.
“Hallowdreen” is an annual event that allows Augustana faculty and staff to bring their children to go trick-or-treating around the hallways. However, the CDC’s recommendations and regulations established at the end of October will determine if “Hallowdreen,” or any of these celebrations, can happen.
“We expect that we will either need to cancel Hallowdreen this year or adapt it to be an outdoor event.” said Director of Residential Life Chris Beyer. “The city or the state will likely be issuing guidance for trick-or-treating, which we would plan to follow. I also anticipate that many parents of Longfellow students may be hesitant to let their children visit a college campus this year.”
Although the outcome is uncertain for these treasured traditions, Augustana’s programs are doing the best that they can to bring joy and familiarity to its students. OSL is planning on hosting a three night showing of Halloweentown in the Olin Auditorium on Oct. 29-31.
Whenever the image of Halloween is conjured up mentally or visually, the idea of trick-or-treating immediately comes to mind and has become a staple activity across America. However, the rationale and guarantee of a safe night of trick-or-treating is inconceivable whilst the current medical mandates are still in effect.
In order for sophomore Mary Agor to condone the logistics of trick-or-treating, she believes that safety measures would have to be enforced more seriously.
“I do not think that it should be a thing this year because there is no way to avoid contact with others and trick-or-treating is just clumps and clumps of children everywhere,” Agor said. “Children worry me when being socially distanced and careful around one another.”
While this upcoming Halloween may not present certain social opportunities, senior James Wheeler acknowledged that while the draw to go out and celebrate will be present, it’s just as fun to think about the activities that can be experienced with close friends. A trip to the pumpkin patch or a zoom costume party can guarantee a fun time without risking each other’s health.
Many students and faculty members will be encouraged to celebrate the holiday in new and unique ways. While it is extremely difficult to imagine Halloween where costumes and candy distribution are not an automatic given, everyone within the Augustana community must be willing to be innovative in order to recreate the Halloween spirit.