The spookiest Halloween yet

Winnipeg tries to keep celebrations going

Although Halloween may look and be experienced differently this year, there are still indoor and outdoor activities planned around Winnipeg to keep the holiday spirit alive.

Knock-knocks turn to beep-beeps

For trick-or-treating, one of the most communal aspects of Halloween, to continue this year, there must be significant protocols in place to ensure safety. Friends of Dyslexia (FOD) aims to make use of social distancing with their Cruisin’ the City Halloween Hunt by car on Oct. 17.

FOD vice-president Amber Bollenbach-Hernando says that after the success of last year’s hunt at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, it was a no-brainer to have this event again, with some adjustments. 

“Last year, we decided that we were going to do this again. Unfortunately, the pandemic has created a little difficulty,” she says.

“To make this safe and fun for everybody and an event that everyone can participate in, we thought, ‘why not in our cars, looking around Winnipeg and seeing what the city has to offer?’”

FOD has created several clues around Winnipeg, which will be outlined in a map distributed on the night of the hunt. When a team finds a checkpoint, there will be volunteers, mostly from the KC Dyslexic Learning Centre, in their cars with bags of candy as rewards.

Though the object of the hunt is simple, the outcome is far more rewarding, as it raises awareness for dyslexia, a learning disability that is estimated to affect one out of five Canadians.

Hernando says although dyslexia has not garnered much attention in Manitoba in the past, there are now significant strides to help publicize it.

“Last year, we got the Minister of Education, Kelvin Goertzen, to proclaim October as Dyslexia Awareness Month, which is huge for the dyslexia community,” she says.

“It is really good that we are having this event in October, because we can really promote awareness as much as we can.”

It's even smaller?

Creepy clowns and being buried alive may not be for the faint of heart, but these aesthetics are what makes Winnipeg’s newest escape room, Killer Noob Escapes (KNE), special. Founder Lisa Bernstein says they are integral to Winnipeg’s Halloween experience.

“This is a perfect fit for us, where we try to capture the spirit of Halloween and give Winnipeg something fun they can do with their groups in their bubbles,” she says.

As KNE recently opened on Oct. 3, Bernstein reflects on the business’ creation with her partner Chris McMillan and what they are doing to adjust to new health guidelines.

“(Chris and I) have always been escape-room fanatics, and every time we travel, we go out to do escape rooms in other cities,” she says.

“We visited one in Las Vegas, and the aesthetics were super cool, almost like walking into a movie set. So after that, we began talking about what we would do differently (and) what it would be like if we can bring something like that to Winnipeg. So we decided, ‘why don't we?’”

Mandatory masks, cleaning all highly touched surfaces and props between bookings, using UV germicidal lamps and reducing group sizes are measures now in place at KNE. 

Though this possibly makes KNE the cleanest escape room in Winnipeg, it is still a difficult time for businesses. However, Bernstein remains adamant that this is necessary to help preserve a sense of celebratory normalcy in Winnipeg.

“That is why we wanted to have our grand opening in October, because (we wanted to create a) safe way to celebrate Halloween,” she says.

Tickets for Cruisin’ the City can be purchased on Eventbrite, and rooms at Killer Noob Escapes can be reserved at killernoobescapes.com.

Published in Volume 75, Number 05 of The Uniter (October 8, 2020)

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