Halloween In Ashland
Veronica Fernandez '24
Of all the holidays, Halloween was one of the hardest to celebrate amongst COVID-19 regulations. Most people would normally spend the spooky season trick or treating door-to-door, navigating haunted houses where ghosts and ghouls get freakishly close, and throwing eccentric parties—all of which the current pandemic denies us from. There was much debate about how Halloween should be celebrated this year, but R-MC students managed to make the most of it despite the limitations.
To get in the Halloween spirit, myself and a small group of friends visited the local Ashland Berry Farm’s “TERROR ON THE FARM,” where they had set up four different haunted houses. The longest haunt, “Boogar Woods,” takes participants far into the woods, where they are then challenged with navigating their way to the end. The trail was much longer than I had anticipated, and I was nearly exhausted—both physically and emotionally—by the end of it. The three other haunts, “The Wolf’s End,” “Revenge,” and “Bloody Bayou,” were much shorter, but still filled with plenty of scares. I was impressed by the amount of effort and detail that the farm put into their decorations and effects. I had only been to big-name haunted festivals at amusement parks in the past, and comparatively, this event was well done for something more small-scale. I wish there had been more actors to jump out and scare us, but I assume that employees were limited due to social distancing guidelines, which is ultimately for the best. We were required to wear masks through the haunts and remain as socially distant as possible, however, the farm did not enforce the six-feet-apart rule as diligently as was possible. Additionally, for safety reasons, it may have been wise to limit the amount of people admitted at one time, but I feel overall that most attendees were thoughtful of those around them.
Many students also went pumpkin picking this Halloween. Several farms in the Ashland area offered pumpkin picking this season, including the aforementioned Ashland Berry Farm and Hanover Farm as well. On campus, students used their pumpkins as decorations, whether they left them plain, carved them, or painted them. Decoration activities were also a huge part of getting into the Halloween spirit this year, and everyone knew that spooky season was approaching as doors and windows became donned with caution tape and fake bloody handprints. Unfortunately, a notice came a few weeks later which required students to remove the decor displayed on our windows. These decorations gave our campus a fun feeling of community, which was especially welcome during these times that lack social interaction, but we made due regardless of the new rule and still enjoyed putting up decorations elsewhere. My residence hall bought decorations and organized an event where we could safely interact with each other and enjoy decorating the doors, walls, and ceiling of our dorm. It was a great way to come together without actually coming together.
A few other activities that students on campus enjoyed this Halloween included watching horror movies, spending time with friends and family, and dressing up in costumes. One student dressed himself and his dog in matching bat costumes and wandered around campus, while another enjoyed going on a ghost tour in Williamsburg. Red Vein, a local escape room business, also offers a seasonal spooky history tour and a haunted house around this time of year. On the tour, participants hear tales of researched history and ghost stories related to the business owners and residents of the town of Ashland. Their haunted house holds its own backstory as well, based on actual local legends.
These unique solutions to Halloween in pandemic times are evidence of the creativity of Randolph-Macon students and the abundance of options available to us in our small town. Even though this spooky season was a little different, our community found ways to enjoy this Halloween safely and responsibly.
Students enjoyed the Halloween festivities while adhering to COVID-19 guidelines.