At least one holiday is ready-made for pandemic safety: Halloween.
“It’s the one holiday a year where you’re supposed to wear a mask,” joked John Longshore, director of the Oxford Performing Arts Center, which is hosting several events in the city of Oxford’s “Halloweek” celebration, which starts Oct. 24 with a “witch walk” and carries on through the week of Oct. 26 to Halloween night (a full list of events appears at the end of this article).
Longshore said masks were among the safety considerations given to the weeklong festival, which had been planned long before the COVID-19 outbreak, to be held mostly at or near OPAC on Choccolocco Street.
“We’re going to make the best of the ‘mask’ theme,” Longshore said.
Events include horror movie nights for adults and families — showing “Beetlejuice” and “Young Frankenstein,” and “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown,” “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad” and “Hocus Pocus,” respectively — a downtown scavenger hunt, a night for pets in costumes (with the film “Frankenweenie” showing in Simmons Park) and several other activities.
Bounce houses had to be abandoned for the sake of social distancing, Longshore said, but Trick or Treat on Main Street, the finale event on Halloween night, will still let kids trick or treat and play in a half-ton of other activities. Adults will hand out candy to trick-or-treaters, Longshore said, so kids will get snacks without taking risks.
The OPAC ghost tour from last year will return for Oct. 29-31 at 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. each night. The tour will be modified for social distancing, and the good news is that the new tour route will head through new areas of the theater, which once served as a courthouse and jail — two kinds of locations bound to bind some ghosts to OPAC’s halls.
“The ghost tours are a lot of fun, but I’m personally very excited about the light show,” Longshore said, referring to a Halloween-themed animated light show projected onto OPAC’s exterior, similar to one performed during the city’s Independence Day celebration earlier this year.
“Learning what we’ve learned from the Fourth of July, we expect this one to be even better and more full-featured,” he continued. “But it’s a kid-friendly Halloween theme, so there are ghouls and goblins but it’s not so scary.”
OXFORD 'HALLOWEEK' EVENTS
Oct. 24: 5 p.m., Witches Ride & Walk, Main Street, Oxford. Families and children are encouraged to participate by cheering on their favorite “witch.”
Oct. 26-31: Ghost of OPAC Tours: A behind-the-scenes walking tour experience throughout the building at 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. each night.
Oct. 26: Classic Horror Movie Night for Grown-ups, with “Beetlejuice” at 6 p.m. and “Young Frankenstein” at 8 p.m. Trivia and other activities in the Studio between movies. Adults are encouraged to dress up. At the Oxford Performing Arts Center, main theater.
Oct. 27: Little Ghouls’ Night Out, A Family-Friendly Movie Night, showing “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” and “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad” at 4 p.m. (best for ages 6 and up), followed by “Hocus Pocus” at 6:30 p.m. (best for ages 10 and up). Oxford Performing Arts Center, main theater. Activities between movies in the Studio include spooky snacks, mask painting and not-so-spooky creatures. All ghouls and parents are encouraged to dress up.
Oct. 28: “13 Alabama Ghosts and Freddy” at the Oxford Public Library, plus a Scavenger Hunt through downtown Oxford.
Oct. 29: Four-Legged Fright Night, an evening of activities for you and your favorite four-legged friends that will wrap up with a showing of “Frankenweenie” in Simmons Park. Pets and people are encouraged to dress up.
Oct. 30: Fright-light Spooktacular: A family-friendly outdoor animated lightshow experience (on the front of OPAC). Shows at 8 p.m., 9 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Oct. 31: 8 a.m., Zombie Fun Run (Walk) at Choccolocco Park.
Oct. 31: 4:30-6:30 p.m., Oxford PARD Halloween Trunk or Treat at Oxford Lake Park. For ages 12 and under. For more information, call the Oxford Civic Center at 256-831-2660.
Oct. 31: 6-10 p.m., Trick or Treat on Main Street. Activities include Fright-light Spooktacular, Ghost of OPAC Tours, Monster Mash dance party, pumpkin painting, pumpkin carving contest, best mask contest, best costume contest, and trick or treating with downtown businesses. Everyone is encouraged to dress in costume.