Celebrations of the ghoulish Halloween holiday will look a little different this year, with local public health guidelines encouraging face masks and social distancing and cautioning against door-to-door trick-or-treating. There are still many events being hosted during the days leading up to Oct. 31 and on the spooky night itself.
Here's a list of entertaining alternatives in Atherton, Menlo Park, Mountain View and Palo Alto.
Jack 'O Jaunt: Pumpkin-carving exhibition along California and University avenues on Oct. 30, 5:30-8 p.m. Winners of categories such as scariest, cutest and most creative pumpkin will receive a $50 gift certificate to a Palo Alto restaurant of their choosing. Strolling, but no gathering, is permitted.
Mask-erade contest: Locals are invited to ditch the traditional Halloween mask and decorate a cloth face covering, then take a selfie and post the photo on Instagram that tags the city at @CityofPaloAlto. Winners will be featured on the city's social media pages.
Midpen Media Movie Nights: Every evening in October, Midpen Media will play five classic films for a Spooky Movie Night experience. The films will air on Channel 30 at 8 p.m. and stream live simultaneously on the Midpen Media Facebook page.
Most creative way to safely trick-or-treat contest: City-sponsored virtual contest about creating the most ingenious ways to disburse candy to trick-or-treaters. Community members can share their method through social media posts that tag the city of Palo Alto or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Winners will be featured on the city's social media pages.
Once Upon a Midnight Dreary: Palo Alto Players' livestreamed Halloween cabaret show of song and dance and spooky scenes takes place Oct. 23-24 and 29-31 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 25 at 2 p.m. for a fee of $20 per household to view the program. Visit paplayers.org for tickets and information.
Public Art Scavenger Hunt: A downtown scavenger hunt involving the many whimsical Greg Brown murals. Winners can send the city their funny photos in front of the murals, which will be shared on social media. A printable scavenger hunt list and online map are available.
Pumpkin decorating with henna: One-hour class over Zoom hosted by Gamble Garden with Priti Aggarwal to teach viewers how to design a Halloween pumpkin using a custom-made henna paste free of chemicals and dyes. No carving required. The event is scheduled for Oct. 24, 10 a.m. All supplies (pumpkin and henna) are provided. To register, visit gamblegarden.org.
Spooktacular library events: The Palo Alto Library offers virtual Halloween-related events all month long and has many tips and resources for a safe and creative Halloween. Events include story times on Oct. 26-30 and Halloween crafts on the library's YouTube channel.
Trunk or Treat: Peninsula Bible Church on Middlefield Road will host its free Trunk or Treat drive-thru for families on Oct. 31, 3-5 p.m. Volunteers will decorate car trunks and tailgates, and children can participate in a visual scavenger hunt from the safety of their cars. Guests will be required to stay in their vehicles at all times and wear masks if they choose to roll down their windows. Kids will receive a goody bag at the end of the drive-thru. Visit pbc.org.
Day of the Dead Loteria: Menlo Park Library hosts a Day of the Dead-themed loteria game (similar to bingo) for children on Oct. 23, 6-7 p.m., online. For information and to register, visit menlopark.org.
Halloween Hoopla Carnival: Virtual city event includes free storytelling, a juggler, a costume contest and crafts on Oct. 30, 4-6 p.m. Children can also receive a free goody bag in advance of the event. For information and to register, visit menlopark.org.
Trick-or-Treat Drive-Thru: Menlo Church hosts an event featuring decorated cars, people dressed in costumes and drive-thru trick-or-treating combined with a canned food drive to benefit the Ecumenical Hunger Program. The event takes place Oct. 31, 3-6 p.m., at 950 Santa Cruz Ave. Visit menlo.church.
Trick or Treat Street: Drive-thru candy distribution by Menlo-Atherton High School's Leadership program. Masks required. The event takes place Oct. 28, 5-8 p.m., at 555 Middlefield Road. RSVP at tinyurl.com/rsvptots.
Virtual Halloween event: The town of Atherton and San Mateo County Libraries is hosting a virtual Halloween event featuring story time, pumpking carving and costume showcase on Oct. 30, 3-5 p.m. Community members can join the Zoom event here. For more information, visit ci.atherton.ca.us.
Monster Bash:The city's Monster Bash, a series of events, includes a trivia night on Oct. 23 and a virtual concert on Oct. 30. The city is also hosting weekly challenges on social media, providing a community recipe e-book and more. Visit mountainview.gov.
Plaza Haunt: Festive decorations at Pioneer Park and Civic Center Plaza through Nov. 2.
Spooky storytime:The Mountain View Public Library is hosting two Halloween-themed storytimes on Zoom for children on Oct. 26, 10-10:30 a.m. for ages 5 and under and on Oct. 28, 3:30-4 p.m. for students in grades K-5. Preregistration is required here for event for children ages 5 and here for students in grades K-5.
Spooky Times at Deer Hollow Farm: Virtual tour of spooky barns, the farm's livestock, and close encounters with freaky farm monsters. Viewable online beginning Oct. 24 at tinyurl.com/y43ursft.
Trick-or-Treat Drive-Thru: Menlo Church in Mountain View hosts an event featuring decorated cars, people dressed in costumes and drive-thru trick-or-treating combined with a canned food drive to benefit the CSA (Community Service Agency). The event takes place on Oct. 31, 5:30-7:30 p.m., at 774 Cuesta Drive. Visit menlo.church for information.
Finally, Halloween activity ideas for residents and safety tips can be found on the city of Palo Alto's website at cityofpaloalto.org/Halloween.