Halloween is a big deal on the Hill, with major celebrations centered around community, kids and pets. Families drive to Capitol Hill from all over to take advantage of the short walk door-to-door for treats and the amazing decorations.
This year, Halloween, like everything else, has been affected by the pandemic. Both the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) have encouraged residents to avoid ‘high-risk’ activities high risk activities –those include most of the traditional Halloween activities, such as door-to-door trick or treating, trunk or treating, indoor haunted houses and bobbing for apples.
So Hill residents and Halloween organizers are adapting, changing the way they celebrate one of the Hill’s favorite holidays so that they can enjoy it –safely.
For more than 20 years, Hilloween has been a celebrated tradition on Capitol Hill. Families gather in and around the North Hall at Eastern Market, showing off their costumes and collecting candy and treats from the local businesses. Schools and local organizations host fundraisers, food sales and giveaways; musicians, face painting, bouncy houses and haunted buses round out some of the attractions.
This year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Hilloween, like many other events, is moving online with the safety of residents and attendees in mind.Event organizer Kristyl Vickers said in an email that their goal as the new organizer is to “bring families new ideas that make Hilloween an event to remember.”
While children and their families look forward to the event each year, the move to online has also impacted local businesses and vendors that typically attend the event.
This year’s event will take place all onlline on Friday October 30th from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and will include a live online DJ, dancing, trivia games, animated stories, pumpkin carving and much more.
You can learn more about this virtual event and find links to every part of the evening on the Hilloween website.
The loss of Halloween traditions is hardest on the kids. Jeni Shoemaker, a resident of the Hill, said that many of the community members she knows are not planning to trick-or-treat this year, opting to stay home due to the pandemic. Shoemaker said that Halloween is “one of the best days of the year” for kids living on the Hill and that her family typically starts costume and decoration preparations months in advance.
While most of the people she knows are not trick-or-treating this year, Shoemaker said. “Some are doing candy hunts in their homes or yards, special Halloween dinners and movie nights. One friend has created little candy bags to drop off at friends houses in the morning of Halloween. I know others are creating fun candy shoots for those that do go out trick or treating.”
Shoemaker herself worked hard and got creative. She made over 50 little ghosts out of ping-pong balls and an old set of sheets. Alerted on a neighborhood list serv, the neighbors collected them from a box outside Shoemaker’s home and will hang them in their yards, a spooky seasonal scavenger hunt.
“In the evenings, we go for walks looking at all of the decorations and the search for the ghosts that we made,” Shoemaker said. “They were so excited the first time that they saw one in a stranger’s yard. They still get excited to see them and count how many they can find.”
Literary Pumpkin Fest
Nearly fifty homes have registered to participate in The Literary Pumpkin Walk
Each has chosen a book or literary character to decorate their yard the week before Halloween. They’re all registered at literarypumpkinwalk.org where you can see the map and list of homes participating and vote for your favorite!
Neighbors can take a literary-Halloween stroll through the neighborhood, and vote for the best design! The winning house/design will get to designate $1,000 towards a local school of their choice.
Learn more about A Literary Feast and this year’s Literary Pumpkin Walk by visiting aliteraryfeast.org
Halloween Still Goes to the Dogs
Every fall for years, costume pets have delighted crowds in Lincoln Park for the Howl-O-Ween Pet Costume Contest. This year, the pandemic prevents folks from gathering to watch the usual pet parade. So, to keep neighbors and staff safe during COVID the COVID-19 epidemic, this year pet supply store Howl to the Chief (733 Eighth St. SE) decided to host the event virtually.
Enter the contest by submitting entries through this link below until October 30th. Or participate by voting for your favorite costume, and sharing with family and friends. Yes, there will be prizes (and bragging rights). Prizes will need to be picked up from the Howl to the Chief storefront.
Winners will be determined by voting and by judges and will be announced on October 31st.
Shoemaker said she is confident that her friends and neighbors on the Hill will find creative ways to celebrate this holiday, even incorporating masks into their socially distanced plans for the special day.
It might be a different sort of celebration, she said, but it is sure to be one that sticks in the minds of the community. “We are all making new memories,” Shoemaker said.