Families dressed in Halloween costumes lined up Oct. 24 to display decorated or carved pumpkins on picnic tables at Steamboat Landing Park to be judged by the public, then displayed in the windows of various downtown businesses.

Pumpkins were judged in two categories, most creative and scariest. A common pumpkin theme this year was the coronavirus. One participant was heard saying, “We all agreed that coronavirus was either creative or spooky."

Waterfall Arts youth and family teacher Bridget Matros developed the idea so local children could have a safe way to celebrate Halloween, she said. Two weeks before the event, she placed free pumpkins donated by Johnny’s Selected Seeds in front of the Waterfall Arts building for people who wanted to participate in the activity.

The 100 participants were fewer than she had anticipated, she said, but she was not disappointed because it made for a safer social distancing event.

She said she was able to consult with researchers who are familiar with COVID-19 about how to implement the event to reduce virus transmission. She also held several outdoor classes over the summer and was able to get an idea about how to execute plans with respect to virus mandates.

“I saw things getting canceled around town and realized if anyone should pull off something safe and large-scale, it should probably be me,” she said.

The city decided not to close Cedar Street for trick or treating because the state deemed it a high risk activity for spreading the coronavirus. It is unknown how many children will be out during Halloween, Oct. 31, or how many houses will be handing out candy.

Jane Beers of Belfast and her two grandsons, Leiam and Lincoln Yanniello, participated in the event. The two kids, dressed as a wolf and a farmer, respectively, said they like to get candy and decorate pumpkins. But their parents are planning a family Halloween party this year instead of going trick or treating.

“We aren’t going to go trick or treating this year,” Leiam said. Lincoln added, “So, they had a good idea to do this.”

Matros said she observed people adhering to the social distancing rules during the event, and that it would not have been possible without volunteers. She is happy that people could come together for an event before winter.

“I just think this is the last hurrah before we’re inside for a couple months,” she said, “and it’s so important for people to see each other and spend time together before we hibernate.”

Winners will be announced at noon on Halloween. Pumpkins will be displayed until Oct. 31 and will be disposed of if they are not picked up. Participants should visit the event's Facebook page or email Matros at Bridget@waterfallarts.org to find out where their pumpkin is displayed.