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Trick-or-treaters pack downtown Howell for Legend of Sleepy Howell, Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. This year’s event will be a drive-thru experience due to the pandemic. (Photo: Livingston Daily file photo / Gillis Benedict)

Popular community events in Livingston County have been scaled back or become virtual or canceled since March due to the pandemic.

As health officials continue to try to curb the virus, Halloween event organizers and haunted attraction owners have been figuring out what they can and cannot pull off this year. 

Halloween will be different this year in Howell, where kids festival The Legend of Sleepy Howell will have a drive-thru format, and in Pinckney, where the Pinckney Halloween Spooktacular will be scaled back.

While three of the county’s outdoor haunted attractions are still planned, one indoor attraction has been nixed by owners due to COVID-19. 

The Howell Area Parks and Recreation Authority is doing The Legend of Sleepy Howell as a socially-distanced drive-thru experience in Scofield City Park, the organization announced Thursday. 

Normally, people pack downtown Howell for family fun. Kids, and some parents, put on Halloween costumes and trick-or-treat at candy stations. Thousands of people have raced with the Headless Horseman in foot races at past events. 

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The drive-thru Legend of Sleepy Howell is set for 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Oct. 23-24.

Pre-registration is required at $15 a vehicle. People can sign up for a series of 30-minute time slots. Event and registration information is available at www.howellrecreation.org/sleepyhowell

“We’ve had to be very forward-thinking, preparing for the most stringent restrictions, so you aren’t forced to make last-minute decisions,” said Amelia Purdy-Ketchum, special events and festivals coordinator for Howell Area Parks and Recreation.

Purdy-Ketchum said entertainers will do things along the path, possibly including fire dancers and costumed actors.

She said the Community Theatre Of Howell is likely to be involved. The Headless Horseman is also expected to appear. 

Trick-or-treating will also be a socially-distant experience. Attendees will use butterfly nets to collect candy at trick-or-treating spots along the drive. 

“We’ve been working with the health department making sure everything is safe as possible,” Purdy-Ketchum said. 

Illuminatus Lasers will put on a laser light show at the event. 

While races are canceled, HAPRA might sell T-shirts to raise money for its recreational programs. 

“We’re going to have an online costume contest and participants are going to submit photos to us … and voting will be on Facebook,” Purdy-Ketchum said. 

“For the last decade, we’ve been doing the Holiday In the Park (Christmas display) program, which is also a drive-thru in the park. … We took that same concept and created a Halloween program,” she said. 

A zombie maze was a new feature at the Terrorfied Forest haunt in Putnam Township in 2019. (Photo: Livingston Daily file photo / Jennifer Timar)

Terror returning to woods, farm in Pinckney

Pinckney’s Terrorfied Forest announced its 2020 season in a Sunday Facebook post. 

The outdoor haunted trail, which features a series of haunted structures, a cemetery and other spooky sets, winds through a nearly 30-acre forested property at 145 Swarthout Road in Putnam Township. 

It is set to open Sept. 25 through Nov. 1.

A new set of haunters, Marie and Byron Butler, took over the longtime haunt and revamped it with some new features last year.

They are expected to release more information on COVID-19 safety protocols in the near future. 

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