Amid the chaos of 2020, some things remain a constant. One of these is Drake University’s annual Halloween event, Spooktacular, being held by the Student Activities Board Oct. 29.
According to SAB Spirit Co-Chair Abby Summers, the goal of the Student Activities Board this year was to adapt as many of their regular events as possible to be COVID-safe, rather than eliminating them altogether.
“Our mindset was really more on adapting our programming to COVID protocols,” Summers said. “We had been thinking the entire time to keep it as normal as possible, but that’s impossible to do with everything. Really with Halloween, it’s such a tricky time because we know people are looking to do something.”
Summers said the Spooktacular event was especially important to maintain, as it provides an alternative to alcohol and parties for students looking to celebrate the holiday.
“Because we’re an alcohol-alternative event, we had an expectation before COVID anyway to provide this programming for students,” Summers said. “So we wanted to make sure we had things to draw students. We knew students were going to be looking for things to do, and we wanted them to be safe about it.”
The event will include food and a variety of activities taking place in Parents Hall.
“We have an evening planned that has been OK-ed by our health and safety team for students to come to Olmsted and have a good time,” Summers said. “We have food options that are fall-themed, a makeshift bowling alley being set up upstairs, we’ll have an airbrush artist there who’ll be creating cool designs on fanny packs, T-shirts, stuff like that. Griff II will be there, and we’ll have a photobooth set up.”
For students who are uncomfortable participating in in-person activities with large numbers of people, there will also be “grab and go” options provided to students.
“We’ll have makeshift to-go bags that will have paint and a pumpkin in it that you can do in your dorm,” Summers said. “You don’t have to stay in Olmsted, you can do it outside, kind of wherever you’d like. We’ll also be showing Beetlejuice that night in Sussman.”
This inclusivity extends to students who are currently doing remote learning from their homes.
“To accommodate virtual and hybrid students, we will also be having a free money game show but in a virtual format, so students can play from wherever they’re at,” Summers said. “If anyone wants to participate in our Halloween costume contest, they can post a picture of them in a costume and tag SAB Halloween, and they’ll be entered to win a gift card drawing for best costume.”
First-year student Zoe Webster said she looks forward to having an in-person activity to attend.
“That sounds awesome,” Webster said. “I think I might go just because it feels like most events are online this year, so it’ll be nice to go to an in-person event. Online events just don’t feel the same.”
Webster also said that events like the Spooktacular help students socially during a time when it is easy to feel isolated.
“Events like that one are an important part of the ‘college experience’,” Webster said. “Especially with online classes, I know that I’ve had some trouble meeting people, and events like this would go a long way to helping to mitigate that issue.”
Summers agreed that planning events like these have helped her maintain a sense of normalcy during an otherwise-chaotic year.
“There’s just so much that hasn’t been normal for students,” Summers said. “I know that for me, having this activity that I can put my energy and time into that can distract me from the fact that I’m sitting here wearing a mask and I’m not doing the things that I want to be doing, I think it just gives us a break from this idea of being kind of trapped in this pandemic.”
According to Summers, it also highlights the resiliency and adaptability of Drake students.
“You can’t deny that [the pandemic] is still going on, so being able to work around it really highlights the resiliency that Drake students have and our willingness to overcome difficult times,” Summers said. “So when you see people turn out at these events and have a good time even under the circumstances, it gives me more motivation to keep going, seeing that everyone else can do it, so I can do it. It’s kind of like a giant hug.”
This is only the beginning for the SAB team: Summers said they are working on planning similar events throughout the rest of the school year.
“I know that we have more virtual programming happening the rest of this year,” Summers said. “I can tell you that we do have an open mic night the first or second week of November and we’re still looking for volunteers, so if anyone is willing to come and sing or perform their talents, we’d love to have that and it would really make our event better.”