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Student Activities Office and Campus Dining to co-host ‘Halloween Spooktacular’

| Friday, October 30, 2020

To celebrate Halloween this year, the Student Activities Office (SAO) and Campus Dining will co-sponsor a “Halloween Spooktacular” event on Saturday. After the success of the Fall Fest, the two organizations are excited to host another evening of festive activities for students.

Alicia Bates, assistant director of student programming for SAO, explained that this event will serve as a way for students to come together to celebrate Halloween, as well as to unwind in a fun, stress-free way.

“Part of SAO’s mission is to enhance the overall student experience through exposure to and participation in recreational and social opportunities that allow students to maintain existing and create new connections,” Bates said. “It is our hope that by planning these events during a time when students are looking to celebrate not just a holiday, but a season, we are offering fun and healthy events that assist in creating community for our students.”

In the spirit of Halloween festivity, students and staff are encouraged to come to the Spooktacular dressed up in costumes that are safe and appropriate. Available activities include a Jack-O-Lantern contest, hall-to-hall trick-or-treating, a fog photo opportunity and various crafts. McWell plans to sponsor an Apothecary with essential-oils, and two movies, “Haunted Mansion and Ghostbusters (1984),” will be played on North Quad and Library Lawn, respectively. A full schedule of events can be found on SAO’s website.

SAO has been working closely with Campus Dining to prepare for the event and align the planned activities with the menu in an effort to make the Spooktacular an enjoyable experience for all. Beginning at 5 p.m., Halloween-themed meals will be served outside North Dining Hall, followed by beverages and desserts served from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. across campus.

Senior director for Campus Dining Chris Abayasinghe expressed his goal to make the event a wholesome, fully-encompassing experience.

“Halloween is a fun time to be able to celebrate everything ghoulish and delicious about the holiday, so from our perspective, it’s to really host an event that provides an opportunity for students to enjoy a version of trick-or-treating,” Abayasinghe said. “We also looked to activate other festivities around campus so that way it’s a more holistic experience than just celebrating with a meal.”

Meals will be pre-packaged in “takeout pumpkin” baskets that allow students to use them for trick-or-treating afterwards. This method of distribution upholds the necessary COVID-19 guidelines that Campus Dining has been adhering to all semester.

In pre-pandemic years, Campus Dining has celebrated the holiday a bit differently, Abayasignhe explained.

“In years past, we would celebrate Halloween in the actual dining halls,” he said. “We played to some of the architectural specifics in some of these spaces. For example, South Dining Hall obviously looks very much like Hogwarts, so we had butterbeer and things along those lines. This year, given both the meal service style as well as the need to maintain physical distancing, we had to get creative.”

With this goal in mind, Campus Dining held a chili cookoff this week to identify the best chili recipe. The winning chili will be featured in the Halloween meal package.

Additionally, executive pastry chef Sinai Vespie recently won the Food Network’s Halloween Baking Championship, and the Halloween Spooktacular will feature Vespie’s desserts from her victory.

Abayasinghe hopes that this event will help bring a sense of fun and entertainment to a semester that has been stressful for many community members.

“I understand truly that everything is a part of a new normal,” Abyasinghe said. “I would say that our students have been through one of the most dynamically changing semesters thus far, and just being able to celebrate a holiday like Halloween is incredibly important. I think it’s important for us to acknowledge the semester as it has been and also to help students appreciate Halloween and eat candy. I mean, how cool is that?”

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