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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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‘The magic’s never gone’: Families use candy chutes, buckets on poles to adjust Halloween tradition

Kids trick-or-treating on Manito Boulevard between 27th and 29th avenues caught candy out of homemade candy chutes to the disco beat of the Bee Gee’s “Stayin’ Alive” on Saturday.

“That song, it feels like the mantra to get us through,” Nikki Lockwood said, shortly after sending candy down one of the chutes on her porch railings.

Health officer Dr. Bob Lutz, recently asked by the Spokane Regional Health District administrator to resign for unexplained reasons, inspired Lockwood to keep going this Halloween.

“When I saw Bob Lutz say he didn’t want to ruin Halloween, I knew. He told us personally, ‘Maybe you should make a catapult,’ ” Lockwood said with a laugh. “He was joking, but we just thought we’d do what we could. If we had music and could dance here, we’d be happy.”

Lockwood has lived in the neighborhood for 21 years and she’s always gone all out for Halloween. Last year marked a decade of Lockwood leading a ghoulish dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” in the median along Manito, but COVID-19 meant the tradition had to take a break.

Next door to Lockwood, Steve and Debby Dodds sat on their porch with their springer spaniel, Dash. Steve, who works at an Apple store in Spokane, brought home a tube that held an Apple poster and secured it to a railing by his porch.

“There’s a tube right there, you ready? Here you go, Spidey,” Steve Dodds said to a 3-foot-tall Spiderman. The candy missed the bucket and appeared lost in a pile of leaves, but the superhero acted fast.

“Spidey sense found that real quick,” Steve Dodds said.

Debby Dodds said they usually get about 1,200 trick-or-treaters and need to have family over to help them greet all the kids.

Across the street, Sue Rolando would normally be dressed up and doing a “witch dance” for kids. This year, she greeted them from her front door, as they stopped about 20 feet from the house at a table full of candies.

“We can do things with mitigation, we can live forward through a pandemic – we just have to think differently to do it,” she said.

But this year still felt different. Rolando is used to a line that “just won’t stop.”

“It’s usually like walking down a street in New York City on this night on this street,” Lockwood said.

This Halloween, people kept to their family clusters. While one group got candy, others waited on the sidewalk. It seemed like the neighborhood had about one-fifth of the normal Halloween foot traffic, Lockwood guessed.

Some families got creative, even carrying a jack-o’-lantern candy bucket on a pole to keep distance.

Patrick and Meghan McLaughlin, their three sons and two of the boys’ friends all loaded up in an extra long golf cart and drove from house to house, blasting pop songs and party lights. The group included two dinosaurs, 9-year-old Cannon as one of two bushes, hamburger dad, hot dog mom, and 7-year-old Hudson as DJ Marshmello.

“COVID sucks,” said Drew McLaughlin, 12, dressed in his dinosaur costume that resembled a hazmat suit, with a clear plastic square in front of his face. His message: “Have fun but stay safe.”

A few blocks away off Bernard Street, the VanOrmers had perhaps the most elaborate decor in the neighborhood. From branches that blew down in a recent windstorm, the family built a pirate ship about 6 feet tall, complete with a skull and crossbones flag, said 17-year-old Dan VanOrmer, dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow.

Lasers sparkled in the yard while, out front, a table full of candy made to look like a pirate’s treasure waited for kids.

Dan VanOrmer and his sister Sammi VanOrmer, 19, are theater kids and loved building a set. The family are fans of Disneyland and wanted to bring the fun of the theme park to their own home for the holiday, even playing music from the Disneyland Pirates of the Caribbean ride throughout their front yard.

“The magic’s never gone,” Sammi VanOrmer said. “Keep the magic.”

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