COOLIDGE — Coolidge resident Sherry Mullins has been doing the same Halloween routine for nine years: she stays at home, gets dressed up and passes out candy. Despite the pandemic, this year was no different.

“I am well aware of COVID-19,” Mullins says, “and I choose to go on living.”

For parents and kids living in Coolidge, there was enough candy and enough ghoulishly decorated homes for one to experience as normal a Halloween as possible. But familiar and delightful haunts could not completely cast out the unwanted spirit of the pandemic in their midst.

At the very least, this year Coolidge had a socially distanced alternative in the city’s “haunted drive-thru” on Saturday night. The event, hosted by the Coolidge Parks and Recreation Department, seemed to strike a successful balance between safety and spooky.

“We still wanted to have the community involved,” says recreation coordinator Kassandra Palacios. “We didn’t want all the COVID-19 craziness.”

The parks department had already canceled the popular Coolidge Days event, and in the past had hosted a Halloween carnival off of Kenilworth Road, as well as a haunted gym.

Palacios said it took them several days to decorate and put up the “haunted” wall. The department had wrapped about 1,300 bags beforehand, over half of which ended up with trick-or-treaters by the end of the evening. They also promoted a virtual costume contest, and winning participants will be announced, along with trophies, later this week.

According to Palacios, around 100 cars went through the set-up, and the staff was handing out candy non-stop during the two-hour window.

“There were lots of people very thankful we were doing something,” Palacios says, adding that the department may do the drive-thru again next year.

Even those people who craved a more traditional Halloween experience expressed a desire to respect neighbors and take health precautions.

Kendall and Pamela Carryer, whose home along Wilson Avenue is annually decked out in an elaborate Halloween scene replete with tombstones, spiders, ghosts, skeletons, floating heads and a dragon, said they encouraged those who came up to be mindful and social distancing from each other.

“It’s been a long year,” Pamela Carryer said. “We need a bit of fun to lighten the mood.”

Coolidge resident Michael Pablo said that he and his family had a wonderful time trick or treating in the city’s Carter Ranch neighborhood.

“There were plenty of houses to visit,” Pablo says. “Some social distancing, a little slide-down pipe where they slide the candy down to us, others did or did not have masks on … it was a fun, tiring night.”

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