Halloweird: Locals get creative for unusual 2020 holiday

The specter of a global pandemic forced caution and creative thinking during what is usually one of the most socially interactive holidays.

Trick-or-treater Henry Stawarski checks out the many carved pumpkins set out in Nancy Tiegs' yard for Halloween Saturday, Oct. 31, on Wildflower Drive in Baxter. Tiegs' display consisted of 144 pumpkins. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

A howling wind beneath a full moon provided an appropriately spooky backdrop to what was anything but a typical Halloween night in the Brainerd lakes area.

The specter of a global pandemic forced caution and creative thinking during what is usually one of the most socially interactive holidays. Traditional trunk-or-treat events in some local church parking lots became touch-free drive-thru trick-or-treating. Many of those who supplied candy at their homes found interesting ways to avoid close contact, including front lawn tables stocked with sweets and plastic pipe contraptions to deliver treats from a distance. And while some opted to trick or treat, others opted for at-home celebrations with the family or to admire Halloween decor from afar.

Prince of Peace Lutheran Church drive-thru trick or treating

At Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Baxter, vehicles lined up to parade through the parking lot, stopping at a number of themed candy stations to receive their bounty. Church member David Hietala, involved in outreach efforts, said at the touch-free stations, masked and costumed volunteers delivered candy either by PVC pipe or tray to the driver of each vehicle, who then could distribute the goods as they saw fit to the children in the car.

“It’s a very unusual Halloween, as everyone knows,” Hietala said. “So we wanted to do something to welcome children to the church, and also be able to do it safely.”


During a two-hour window, the church served more than 800 children with the setup, according to Hietala. And churches throughout the area hosted similar events or modified trunk or treats crafted with safety in mind.

In north Brainerd, where the neighborhood takes its Halloween tradition seriously, the kid traffic was noticeably lighter when compared to a normal year. One resident who has several years of candy-giving experience said an estimated 300 children might darken their doorstep typically. As of about 6 p.m., 40 to 50 trick-or-treaters had arrived.

Trick-or-Treating in north Brainerd

Down Wildflower Drive in Baxter, a display of 144 pumpkins outside Nancy Tiegs’ home offered passersby a cheerful and artistic respite to stop and admire a variety of carvings. Tiegs just recently moved to the lakes area from Wisconsin and took her famous display with her — what was the city of Richland Center’s loss was Baxter’s gain.


During previous years, Tiegs would return home from her teaching job and carve 20-25 pumpkins a night during the week leading up to Halloween. These days, she prefers artificial carvable pumpkins, giving her display longevity and relieving her from fighting the elements to prevent rot. Tiegs offered advice for those interested in creating their own long-lasting displays: wait until after the holiday to find the best deals on the foam gourds.

For those who missed Tiegs’ pumpkin parade, don’t despair.

“Next year when we do it, it will be bigger than this,” she said.

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