While traditional Halloween happenings of dressing up in costumes and going door-to-door for candy may not be happening much this year due to COVID-19 concerns, one local nonprofit is putting together a virtual and spooked-themed variety show to help families enjoy the holiday.
The event, dubbed Quarantine O’Ween, is being put together by Vitalize Kitsap, formerly Island Time Activities, a nonprofit that has been serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Kitsap County for 20 years. Executive director Kellie Creamer said the organization works on skills building for jobs, relationship-building and life in general.
“It gives them an opportunity to interact with each other and build friendships,” she said. “It’s grown over the years. Now we serve sixty members and their families throughout the county. It’s all about creating a culture of inclusion and lifelong learning. Once they get out of the school system, this kind of population doesn’t really have a whole lot of opportunities.”
To help promote and celebrate their 20th anniversary, Vitalize Kitsap intended to hold a big in-person variety show at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art. The nonprofit even received a grant from the city of Bainbridge Island to help.
“Then COVID hit,” Creamer said. “We scrapped everything. We did have to close down a while. Many people need more close proximity and physical support so it definitely affected our business and our capabilities.”
To more appropriately celebrate Vitalize Kitsap’s momentous occasion, they have already reserved a spot at Bainbridge Performing Arts for next spring, COVID permitting. In the meantime, a parent of one of the members, who is a film producer, is credited with coming up with the idea of a virtual Halloween variety show.
The variety show will consist of various dance routines, skits, jokes and even the always hysterical pie in the face bit. Members will be dressed up in Halloween attire. One of the main components will be a dance routine to Michael Jackson’s Thriller, a popular song for this time of year. The production crew even set up tombstones and incorporated a fog machine to help capture the Halloween feel.
Creamer said members — including herself — have been practicing the routine on Zoom for months.
“It’s family friendly,” she said of the event, comparing it to the old Carol Burnett Show. “We’re hoping to have a little bit of an alternative for folks who can’t go trick-or-treating. With the purchase of a ticket, we’re making little goodie bags (for folks) to enjoy while watching the show.”
Roughly 50 people are involved in making the show, ranging from members, staff, parents and production crew. While practicing and filming, everyone must be spread out, wear face coverings and have their temperatures taken upon arrival to adhere to coronavirus protocols. The event also must take place outside.
“We are an essential business because we serve a vulnerable population,” Creamer said. “We still do all of the safety precautions but we are able to have more people at a time.”
To watch the show, viewers must purchase a $20 ticket that will be donated directly to Vitalize Kitsap. In return, staff will give out goodie bags full of candy and other items on Halloween at Seabold United Methodist Church, along with providing the Zoom link to the variety show.