Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk's inaugural trick-or-treat event to go on, despite health officials saying it’s a bad idea

By Wesley Severson - Published on October 21, 2020.

Despite objections from health officials, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk plans to move forward with a total Halloween experience in the midst of this coronavirus pandemic.

The city of Santa Cruz has long been a hot spot for tourists, and historically Halloween has been known to draw extra-big crowds to the downtown area for parties and other spooky festivities. 

But not this year. Many of the standard fun activities are now canceled or so severely restricted by pandemic rules that they don’t even sound like a good time at all. 

That’s because the state and most counties are telling kids and parents not to trick-or-treat, or even try to pull off those cheesy parking lot versions known as “trunk or treats.” Health officials are further recommending no large crowds and that means most Halloween options are out.

But now the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, which basically didn’t get to have its busy summer tourist season because of the pandemic and needs to make all the money it can, is saying "come on over and celebrate" despite the risk of catching the virus.

According to the Boardwalk’s website, there will be plenty of Halloween-themed things to do including a selection of outdoor arcade and midway games, as well as select food and shopping options. 

One major draw of the Boardwalk that has been closed since March are the rides. They will remain closed for the first-ever “Halloween at the Boardwalk” event. Their site reads: "Although rides are closed, celebrate with spooky Boardwalk fun, all planned with COVID safety in mind."

Karley Pope, Director of Sales and Entertainment at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk told KSBW that while they understand the county recommendations, they are providing families with a controlled environment by allowing trick-or-treating at participating food and shopping locations along the Boardwalk from noon to 7 p.m.

So how are they pulling this off? The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is often mistaken for a city-run facility, but it’s a private business, so it does not need to adhere to what are only health “recommendations.” And technically, since they are serving food, which is allowed, they are not breaking any rules.

Pope also said to KSBW that all their staff will be pre-screened, and wearing gloves and masks the entire time while enforcing social distancing rules with customers. There will also be a limited number of families allowed in at one time. If it gets too full, families will be asked to wait until other families exit.

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