Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, even Canada Day. There are oodles of holidays to love and celebrate, but for Anna den Hengst, Halloween takes the cake. She loves to decorate (there is a 12’ skeleton in her yard), and creates the kind of displays in her yard that people stop for a picture of. Some of the decorations have stayed up so long that they are even a part of the year-long décor. It was this love of Halloween that drove den Hengst to start Meaford’s Haunted Candy Route during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With so much shut down during COVID, it was tough taking another hit on a beloved tradition, especially for the kids. Seeing all the chatter in 2020 on Facebook about whether trick-or-treating would or should happen, den Hengst took things into her own hands. As an outdoor activity, she figured trick-or-treating was relatively easy to do safely and so set up a contactless candy route. With a map highlighting participating houses, families could go around and collect their treats without coming into close contact with homeowners. In fact, many participants came up with creative ways to hand out their candy from simply putting out a bowl or creating chutes to send the candy down.
Even before COVID, den Hengst noted she barely got any trick-or-treaters at her place, and since the Haunted Candy Route map came out she guesses upward of thirty are now visiting her place. Even with COVID over, den Hengst and her husband will continue organizing and building the candy route map, as it gives Meafordites direction as they navigate Halloween night. With the amount of walking involved in trick-or-treating in Meaford, the map also gives families a destination when setting out.
Another aspect of the Haunted Candy Route map is the accessibility feature. den Hengst asks that all houses which can accommodate trick-or-treaters with special needs to let her know in advance so that they are marked on the map. Houses with plenty of decorations are also highlighted on the map as is the house with the haunted walk-through.
If you are interested in having your house listed or are just looking for a copy of the map, contact den Hengst at firstname.lastname@example.org. The map is also available through the various Meaford community Facebook pages. The last call for addresses is a week before Halloween so that the map can be created.
Meaford’s Haunted Candy Route was a definite win for the community to come out of those tumultuous COVID years. It is a safe, convenient, and fun way for trick-or-treaters to gather their candy and for families to plan an exciting Halloween evening.