'Reverse Halloween' in Gananoque brings the candy to your family

The candy donation barrel in front of the Firehall Theatre in Gananoque, Ont., for donations towards the

Halloween will be different for many this year, with some areas in the province recommending ghosts, goblins and witches not to go door to door.

However, one Gananoque theatre company has a solution, even though that town is allowing people to trick or treat on October 31.

"I was like how can we do Halloween safely? So I thought just do it backwards, just do it in reverse!" said Marta McDonald, company manager at the Thousand Islands Playhouse.

"Last week, we put out a call to all of the kids in the area and the schools and it sort of blew up, offering people to sign up to get a bag of candy delivered to their house by a playhouse witch or vampire," McDonald said.

Since Friday, more than 130 people have signed up to have candy delivered, which is about 65 homes.

McDonald said the plan is to cover all of Gananoque but, if a family lives just outside town limits, they'll make it work and are hoping to have a list of about 250 kids to visit.

"To me, the best part of Halloween is seeing the costumes and sorting the candy, so to avoid the stress that it might cause some people to go out on a night; it's just an opportunity for people to still celebrate." McDonald said.

The town has no restrictions on trick-or-treating but Gananoque mayor Ted Lojko advises everyone to adhere to COVID-19 protocols.

"It is up to the parents," he said. "Obviously, if the parents want to send their kids out, we are asking them to make sure there is social distancing, that kids are wearing proper masks, et cetera, and we're asking residents that are going to be delivering candy or treats to practice social distancing, wear a mask and try to not come into contact with the kids directly."

 

Lojko said the town has done well listening to health advice throughout the pandemic.

"People have been very responsible, 99 percent of people wear masks, people are social distancing," he said.

He also applauded the "reverse Halloween" idea, saying it's nice that families can still celebrate.

"It gives the community an option of either staying home for the parents and being safe with kids or allowing kids to actually participate by just knowing that their neighbours are contributing towards Halloween.

"It is for the kids. Halloween is almost an institution and it's been going on for hundreds of years," he added.

With the playhouse cancelling all of their 2020 productions, the focus turned to the community and how they could help out, McDonald said.

"It's been a completely different summer for us and so we really just sort of changed gears a bit and decided to focus on our community here that is so supportive and give back to them."

All volunteers will be wearing gloves, sanitizing, and wearing masks when they are handing out candy to ensure the safety of residents.

The playhouse is also looking for candy donations and volunteers to deliver candy on Halloween.

"I'm hoping for lots of Halloweeny stuff like ghosts and witches. We had a specific request from a parent on her online form. She asked if a spooky monster could come to her house so I'm going to try and fulfill that request," added McDonald.

"We are in the business of costumes and characters," she said with a laugh.

Donations can be dropped into the barrel at the front of the Firehall Theatre on South Street between business hours and you can sign up to receive a bag of candy on their website.

Volunteers wanting to help are asked to call or email the playhouse directly at 613-382-7020.