East Lansing reimagines Halloween, winter holidays

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The Great Pumpkin Walk, usually held in downtown East Lansing every Halloween, is being replaced by a pumpkin photo contest to help keep the holiday safe during the pandemic.

Poster says "It's the Great Pumpkin Photo Contest"

City of East Lansing

East Lansing is finding new socially distant ways to celebrate some holiday traditions

The photo contest is being handled by the Downtown Management Board, composed of local merchants.

Safer ways to celebrate the city’s winter events are also being developed.

Amy Schlusler-Schmitt, the neighborhood partnerships initiative liaison, called the photo contest is “A virtual, yet fun way to support local merchants.”

Schlusler-Schmitt said the event is community engagement activity and keeps the fun spirit in East Lansing. 

The contest comes with first-, second- and third-place prizes. The first-place winner gets a $300 Visa gift card and a $25 East Lansing parking voucher. The second- and third-place winners also get gift cards and parking vouchers.

Schlusler-Schmitt said the contest drives people to visit downtown while taking their pumpkin pictures, and encourages them to come back and support businesses with their prizes.

Schlusler-Schmitt said she would love to see the event return in future years.

The most anticipated activity is traditionally trick-or-treating and the city has released a list of guidelines for that.

According to Quinn Alexander, communications specialist for East Lansing, “The city is not encouraging people to trick-or-treat, but we’re also not telling people that they can’t trick or treat.”

Alexander also wrote, “Halloween is not a city-sponsored event and trick-or-treating is a personal choice; however we are encouraging people to be mindful of safety tips that public health officials have released.”

Alexander wrote, “Most restaurants and bars are doing a good job of following public health orders. The concern is more with settings where there are large gatherings of people who are not from the same household and who are not social distancing or wearing masks.”

Safe practices could keep areas around Michigan State University from becoming a COVID hotspot over the Halloween weekend. 

George Johnson, an East Lansing resident and MSU student , said he is staying low-key this Halloween.

“I get that people want to go celebrate, especially with Halloween being on a Saturday. I just don’t think it is safe,” said Johnson.

City precautions will continue into the winter, according to Alexander. He wrote, “The city’s annual Winter Glow event is being reimagined in an effort to preserve and protect the community.”

Alexander added that the city will be welcoming pop-up markets during the winter and that the city is set on having events that are safe, yet fun for the community.