A local nonprofit organization will put on its first drive-thru Halloween event in mid- and late October, hoping to give visitors a fun, socially distanced experience while raising money for its operations.
BCR: A Place to Grow, which offers programs for children and adults who have developmental or intellectual disabilities, will host the event in its parking lot on the weekend nights of Oct. 16-18 and 23-25. The “Cursed Creek” drive-thru haunt is open to all, according to nonprofit representatives, who will request a $20 donation from vehicles looking to participate.
The nonprofit is also seeking further donations via a Facebook fundraiser to purchase materials for the event, which will feature six “scenes” involving witches from various cultures and stories, as well as for its other projects. As of Friday morning, the fundraiser had received about $1,200 out of its $3,000 goal.
“We’re kind of like testing it out to see what the outcome of it is, especially [with] the way things are right now,” said Michael Escamilla, integral community specialist for BCR. “But we want to give people something to look forward to because I know there’s a lot of events that have been canceled.”
This is BCR’s second year of running the event, though due to the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the nonprofit had to move it from inside its facility to the parking lot outside.
Victor Barrios, a volunteer with BCR, floated the idea of the location change to organization administrators, comparing it to drive-thru Christmas exhibits that are sometimes held in December.
Barrios, whose experience as a “scarer” includes having worked for Knott’s Berry Farm during its popular Halloween event, said he’s watching videos on witches in preparation for next month’s event. He’ll join about a couple of dozen volunteers who will perform at the scare.
“It’s something new that, we’re not sure what to expect, but we’re really excited to see how it’s going to go,” he said in a phone interview.
BCR, founded in 1963, has had to adjust to social distancing requirements in other ways as well. For example, the classes it holds for its adult clients — on looking for an apartment, how to practice proper hygiene, on self-advocacy — are held over Zoom.
And since people with developmental disabilities can be more sensitive to bright lights or loud noises, Escamilla has thought deeply about how to make sure this year’s Halloween event is safe for them, he said. He explained that there won’t be strobe lighting, which could cause seizures, and that staff will advise parents on what to expect — such as loud music.
He also plans on communicating with the scarers performing at the event on what to do if one of BCR’s clients is about to drive through the haunt.
“Last year … I would first initially walk through the maze and make sure all the volunteers know that there is someone coming through that [has] special needs, so that way they don’t lash out at them or try to scare them [or] the consumer might end up having a negative reaction,” Escamilla said, adding that this year he plans to equip the staff with radios.
Escamilla explained that last Halloween’s BCR event had a fairly good turnout, raising about $4,000. He hopes to see people come out again, adding that the nonprofit is looking at holding more events after the pandemic subsides.
“We want the community to be part of BCR as much as BCR [wants] to be part of the community,” he said.
For more information about the event or to donate, visit facebook.com/bcraplacetoscare.