ALTHOUGH it’s not considered part of the rich TT cultural landscape, local Halloween celebrations have been picking up momentum over the years. Popular nightclubs such as Zen, Aria, Space La Nouba, and Tzar would transform their spaces into eerie netherworlds to host Halloween events for adults, and it’s not unusual to see children, dressed up in full costumes, trick-or-treating through their neighbourhoods.
But with the covid19 pandemic restrictions mandating that no more than ten people can gather in public places for social events, what will happen on October 31 this year? Will these restrictions be the death of Halloween celebrations 2020?
The Prime Minister, on October 11, had expressed hope that the number of daily covid19 cases would have dropped significantly enough to allow an ease on the restrictions so that those who want to can take part in the celebrations. However, when he addressed the nation again on October 24, the number of people allowed to gather in a public place for social events remained at ten.
Dr Joanne Paul, head of the Paediatric Emergency Department, Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex at Mt Hope, in one of the Ministry of Health’s virtual press conferences earlier this month, had also warned against hosting or attending Halloween events.
“I know as Trinidadians and Tobagonians, we want to go out there and lime and get together, because that’s our culture. But the virus thrives on having that super-spreader event.
“I strongly recommend that we do no trick-or-treating, no Halloween parties, (because) in a few weeks’ time, we’ll spike again and we’ll go back to the same situation.”
The majority of people who usually hosted Halloween events have opted out of celebrations this year. But there are those who are virtually hell-bent on going on with the celebrations, using their social media platforms to promote their events.
Nicolai Solomon of Island Crashers Ltd told Newsday the format may be different, but he and his team will ensure that the spirit of the event will hover over TT. Island Crashers has hosted a Halloween party for the last four years aboard the Harbour Master, which attracted about 600 patrons each year.
“But due to covid19 we just decided to do a virtual Halloween contest. We will partner with some sponsors to give out prizes for people to get creative.” He said the event will be promoted on social media.
Artist Akilah Mitchell will host a Halloween paint party via Zoom on October 31, for all ages, from 4-6 pm.
“Sip your drinks and paint with me,” Mitchell said on her Art by Akilah Facebook page, where all the details can be found.
And what about the trick-or treaters? Parents of children from a gated community in east Trinidad said they are looking at a few “safe” options.
“Every year a group of children from our neighbourhood get together for a small Halloween event. They get dressed up in full costume and have loads of fun going from house to house with their bags and buckets collecting their candy.
“It’s a pity that they may not be able to physically get together this year, but we are considering drive-by or ride-by candy pick-up, followed by a virtual party via our WhatApp group chat. Whatever we decide, though, Halloween will be celebrated, in a safe way, of course.”
But not everyone is in a celebratory mood, especially when it involves their livelihood. Jenny Seepersad of the Chaguanas-based Jeepers Creepers told Newsday sales have been very slow and she is hoping things will pick up.
“People are enquiring, mainly for kids’ costumes but not buying. They are buying more props for décor. The most popular are ghouls, skeletons and spiders.”
She said usually Jeepers Creepers would facilitate sales at a physical space. This year, it is depending on social media to generate sales.
“We didn’t open a store this year. We closed the store after Carnival this year and because of the lockdown we didn’t bother looking for a new space. We are selling everything from scary to sexy and everything in between via Facebook, and doing deliveries to C3, Chaguanas, Grand Bazaar and Port of Spain.”
Another big Halloween-costume seller, Samaroo’s Ltd, has also had a drop in sales this year, but hopes to attract more customers with its 30 per cent off sale on all Halloween items.
“People are buying because they are still decorating their homes,” a spokesperson from the marketing department told Newsday, “but it’s not as normal.”
She said customers have the option of ordering online or in-store at Boundary Road, San Juan, or at Cross Crossing San Fernando stores. “They also have the option of a TT Post delivery.”
Richard’s Halloween Headquarters at The Falls at West Mall, Westmoorings, began advertising on its Facebook page since early September. Videos and photos of a variety of costumes for children and adults, as well as spooky decor accessories have been posted on the page. Ads for a sale of 50 per cent off all adult costumes were also posted, as well as a notification that, "Richards will be driving around on Halloween night in Blue Range to give our treat bags to the kids. So decorate your gates to let us know where to stop. Will be there at 5:30."
And at the Wonderful World stores, which around this time are usually packed to capacity with customers rushing to get their ghastly accessories, not a cobweb is hanging. One employee at the Frederick Street, Port of Spain branch told Newsday, “Halloween here has been cancelled this year!”
Halloween is a holiday celebrated each year on October 31. The tradition originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts.
In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honour all saints. Soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain.
The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween.
Over time, in the US, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating, carving jack-o-lanterns, festive gatherings, donning costumes and eating treats.