Written By: Nicholas Ashenfelter
COVID-19 has caused cancellations throughout 2020, and Halloween has been no exception. In light of so few public events, Shanelle Fleet (‘22) and Chyna Landon (‘22), two students, took it upon themselves to create their own socially distanced Halloween event. They settled on a haunted trail event that would allow students to enjoy Halloween-themed festivities while also adhering to social distancing guidelines.
Leading up to the event, Fleet and Landon made posts on the St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) diversity page and hung flyers to advertise their Haunted Trail to the SMCM community. In addition to advertising to potential attendees, the two needed to recruit actors. Landon explained that recruitment was done through “word of mouth,” leading to a total of 15 volunteers.
The diversity room typically hosts discussions on gender, race, and sexuality, with this event being their first big program. The inspiration for this particular event seemed to come from Landon, who expressed a great interest in all sorts of haunted houses and trails. A different haunted house was planned last year, and that cancellation only served to fuel her motivation. The diversity room paid for all masks and props, allowing the public to attend free of charge.
The event begins at 8 p.m. on Halloween and concludes at midnight. Fleet explained the planned layout was a trail leading through the Queen Anne woods, which Landon noted would be “scarier than normal.” Actors would be hiding at various points in the pathway wearing scary masks and costumes, hidden yet close enough to send chills down the spine.
Landon herself would be responsible for overseeing the event. Before it started, she would check all the actors’ masks and costumes and ensure they were in their proper places. To contribute to the atmosphere, Landon also described the use of a speaker to broadcast ambient thematically-appropriate sounds, as well as hanging more traditional decorations.
To those concerned about safety, Landon and Fleet had only reassuring things to say. All actors will wear masks that fit both COVID-19 guidelines as well as the spooky theme. They will be spread far enough apart from each other as well as guests to avoid inadvertent infection. Guests will also be spaced out, with small groups permitted to travel together and only a set number allowed in the trail at once.
While the standard Halloween events, such as Hallowgreens, typical haunted houses or pumpkin patches may not be available or running like they typically would, Fleet and Landon have planned an event in the hopes of still eliciting that same feeling of Halloween joy. In more humble words, they say that they want to “just provide something fun to do.”