FREE! Halloween Fall Fest
All Ages | October 24 | 5-8pm | Donner Park
As parks departments across the country pivoted to continue to provide services to communities during COVID, our department was no different. We had planned to introduce a new event during the fall of 2020 but as we approached fall and saw a spike in numbers, we went back to the drawing board to reconfigure our event. By this time, so many events had been cancelled that our community was anxious that Halloween would follow suite. We had conversations with our Mayor’s office to let them know we hoped that we would be able to provide a safe, modified version of trick-or-treating for those in our community. By this time, we had learned that being outdoors, mask wearing, proper sanitizing and social distancing was a way to provide safe activities for our community. With the Mayor’s office giving their nod of approval, we continued our planning. We decided to formulate a free, family friendly trick or treat event in one of our parks. Given the financial constraints this year placed on our events, we knew the only way this would be a success is if we could get the entire community to buy into the event and enlist to participate.
We reached out to local businesses by way of our Chamber of Commerce list of members, through our event sponsor QMix (our local radio station – see partnership agreement in files), on social media and relying on staff to reach out to their professional contacts for their support and attendance. We weren’t sure how many would be willing to participate as we know businesses bottom lines were hurt as well this year and that many might be apprehensive about participating in a group event. However, we sent out with our solicitations our COVID modification plan for the event and it was met with resounding relief (see files section for the plan). In addition, we found that our local businesses were grateful for the support shown to them throughout the year and were actively looking for ways to help provide something positive back to their community. We had 37 businesses volunteer to provide staff to dress up, decorate their “booth” and pass out candy to our trick-or-treaters. We saw some extremely creative ways for these businesses to get candy to our trick-or-treaters with zero contact! We had local businesses donate prizes so that we could award 1st, 2nd and 3rd place to our decorated booth businesses as well.
In addition to the trick-or-treat booths along the trail, we also hosted a costume contest for kids aged newborn to 12 years of age. We also partnered with our local Animal Shelter to provide a doggy costume contest!
While we forecasted 200 participants initially to come through the event, once we began posting on social media and running our free partner commercials through QMix, we saw interest in the event spike. Ultimately, there were over 1,000 people that came through from start to end of our 5-8pm event. Businesses were out of candy halfway through the event (they prepared for 400 just in case!) and found the event so valuable and fun that they left the event to go restock and return to continue to pass out candy to the rest of the participants!
Facebook Event Created – https://bit.ly/3hznRUz
Website Brief Event Description – https://columbusparksandrec.com/special-family-events/
QMix Partnership – Contract with description of secured marketing in files section