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Halloween event plans being altered in San Juan County amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Matt Hollinshead, mhollinshead@daily-times.com

FARMINGTON — With Halloween just three weeks away, festivities will look significantly different amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

San Juan College will hold two drive-in Halloween movie nights instead of its Halloween carnival, while Piñon Hills Community Church will hold a virtual pumpkin carving contest. Aztec's format for its Safe Treats event is also expected to change.

San Juan College spokesperson Lucy Haber said the movie times will be 7 p.m. Oct. 16 and 7 p.m. Oct. 30 in the parking lot in front of the college's bookstore.

Emma Marriott, 6, goes pumpkin bowling during the 2016 San Juan College Halloween Carnival. The event returns to the college campus today.

Haber said the first film featured will be "Beetlejuice," while the second film is to be determined. She said popcorn and green Chile stew will be served during both movie nights.

“It still somewhat feels like we’re getting together in a way,” Haber said, adding there will also be a virtual costume contest this month through the college's school of business.

Piñon Hills Community Church spokesperson Rachel Corley said people can submit photos of their carved pumpkins online at halloweeniscanceled.com. The contest winner will be announced on Oct. 31, and prizes will include a big flat-screen television.

Aztec Chamber of Commerce Vice President Joshua Large said the chamber’s throwing out “a bunch of random ideas” for its traditional safe treats' new look, such as a costume contest or even people driving around downtown to distribute candy to trick-or-treaters from inside their vehicles.

The Aztec Chamber of Commerce is still deciding how to celebrate Halloween safely. In the past, it has hosted a Safe Treats event.

“I think we’ll figure something out,” Large said. “With the COVID stuff, everything’s much more difficult than it used to be.”

Large said he doesn’t envision kids being able to walk around downtown Aztec in the traditional sense like previous years. Large said the chamber will discuss the next steps on Monday Safe Treats at its next meeting, which’ll be 9 a.m. Tuesday at Rubia’s.

Monday Safe Treats also includes the Teal Pumpkin Project, which allows those who are handing out Halloween candy or goods to provide small toys for children with food allergies.

Boo-Palooza still a no-go

The City of Farmington already canceled its annual downtown event back in August amid COVID-19 concerns.

“At the time, we didn’t know what was in store for October,” City of Farmington spokesperson Georgette Allen said. “It’s challenging times right now… It’s a beloved event in the community."

Boo-Palooza, which draws in thousands of people each year, is a popular event in Farmington where people dress up in costumes and mingle up and down Main Street in downtown Farmington. 

An elaborate monster costume at Boo-Palooza in downtown Farmington on Oct. 31, 2019.

Restaurant workers hand out candy during the event, while police officers and firefighters also interact with people.

Groups cannot comprise of more than 10 people under the state's public health order, so it wouldn't be safe to hold Boo-Palooza, Allen said.

Allen also said there are no alternative events planned in Farmington.

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 and on Twitter at @MattH_717.

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