As the board imposes restrictions at schools for Halloween, EDSS drama teacher DJ Carroll prepares for a homemade Halloween production. Carroll has been putting on a Halloween event in the community annually for the past 22 years. This year’s theme is ‘Scary Potter.’
Along with the entertainment factor, the event is an outlet for some of the older kids who no longer go trick-or-treating, says Carroll.
“It really turns into a thing that gives teenagers something to do on Halloween because a lot of them don’t get to do anything anymore. It gives them a chance to have a bit of fun with kids – a little bit of scary stuff can happen but mostly it’s just to have some fun,” he explained.
“Last year we did a very different show because of COVID: people could come and watch a show in our driveway. We’re continuing that again because of COVID safety protocols. It takes about 10 minutes for the show; it is interactive, so people do get a chance to do some stuff during the show. Candy will be handed out as well.”
Carroll notes that his drama students have embraced the event, finding it an outlet for their talents.
“I’m there to help facilitate it, but a lot of parts, a lot of pieces being done are by the students. They’re performing some magic tricks and their doing the wizard dueling class – it’s something for them to perform since we’re not doing any major plays right now.”
The one-day Halloween event on Sunday will include several show times for anyone who wants to attend starting at 5:30 p.m. and running every half hour until 8 p.m.
“We have room for lots of people to stay safely spread out so we don’t have to book tickets or anything. If they’re out trick-or-treating and they hit a few houses down the street, as long as they come at those times they’ll be able to see us do the show.”
Carroll noted the event will happen rain or shine, taking up his and his neighbour’s driveways as well as garages during the shows at 14 Limera Ave. in Elmira.
“All the kids in the neighborhood have been bugging me, asking me about the theme this year and so they’ve been slowly picking up clues from the stuff on the lawn. We have some regulars who come in from Waterloo and other places so people have started to ask me ‘what are you doing this year?’ It’s nice,” he said, noting he’s not sure how many to people to expect this time around.
“We’ve had as small, in years past, as small as 60 people and we’ve had over 200. The show will happen if there’s two kids watching, the show will happen if there are 50 people watching. If 200 people show up for one show, we will separate everyone out and have to do two or three shows in a row. We have to follow all the COVID safety protocols.”
Many of the props and costumes were made by the drama students themselves, getting into the spirit of the holiday.
“Some of the stuff, the drama kids helped make. They helped make the wands, they’ve helped do some costuming, some of the set pieces, also backdrops,” said Carroll, noting the goal is simply to provide entertainment.
“Halloween is about having fun, it’s not about scaring anybody, it’s not a different culture thing. If you want to come out and participate, I want it to be fun. If you’re just waking by, I want you to go ‘Oh that’s a cool thing.’ We have people of different faiths, cultures, backgrounds, likes, dislikes who are coming out and being in this event – as long as people are having fun, that’s basically to me that’s the heart of all the Halloween stuff I did since I was a kid. It’s just for fun.”
Carroll noted they haven’t been able to put on any EDSS student plays for the past two years due to the pandemic. He hopes by early next year they will be allowed back on the stage.
“With everything going on with COVID the last couple years, so many things have been canceled, so many things can’t happen, so many things don’t get to go. This is a very simple event, this is a very simple thing I can put together with my students and we get to do something; not only do we get to do something, but we get to do something for the community, we also get to do something for kids.
“One thing we do ask is if people can bring a donation to the food bank, we will have a box here for that.”