Ashlyn Hynes models a costume she picked up at the Friendly Ghost Costume Stop last year – fittingly, a friendly ghost! This year’s event will be held at Goff Hall. Kathleen Saylors/Woodstock Sentinel-Review

The Friendly Ghost costume stop is here to help, and donations are still needed for this year’s event. 

“The kids have lost so much this year, we can’t cancel Halloween. We need Halloween!” said Sarah Allen, organizer of the annual free costume event. 

Every year Allen organizes the the Friendly Ghost costume stop – taking donations of gently used costumes for toddlers, kids and teens, which are then given away during an early October free “shopping” event where parents and kids can come and pick out a new-to-them costume.

Instead of a drop-in event like years past, Allen said this year they’re using appointments to accommodate crowd limits and social distancing.

People can call the City of Woodstock to make an appointment, and they’ll have half an hour to come in and “shop” for the perfect costume. For those eager to get the best selection of costumes, not to worry: you don’t have to show up first to get a great costume.

“Usually we get line-ups at the door because everyone wants the best costumes, but we’re going to space those out so that there are new costumes every half hour or so,” Allen said. “You don’t have to be the first one to get the appointment, we’ll have them all day long.”

“It is open to everyone with an appointment, whether you have $5 or $5 million,” Allen said. “It’s just that costumes are really expensive, especially now with COVID, people out of jobs, people watching their money, the idea is that everyone is welcome to a costume.”

And with just over two weeks to go until the event, Allen said they’re still looking to collect donated costumes, especially baby and toddler and teen costumes, as well as Halloween decorations, which they’re accepting for the first time this year.

“We have a lot of new costumes, but I haven’t been getting the donations of used costumes. I need them ASAP, within the next week,” she said.

Allen said they typically have 200 to 300 costumes donated, and usually about that many people participating in the event. While she’s personally heard that some families aren’t planning on door-to-door trick or treating this year, she said she still thinks kids will want to dress up for whatever they’re doing – whether that’s spending time with family, neighbourhood trick or treating, or having a small gathering with their social bubble of friends.

Many of the new costumes purchased this year and available at the event are wrapped in plastic; for donated costumes Allen said their safety protocol is to isolate them for a week before the event – meaning she needs all costume donations by this Friday. 

There will be COVID-19 protocols in place on the day of the event, including maximum 40 people in at a time, masks, social distancing and frequent hand sanitizing. 

This yer’s event is on October 3 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Goff Hall. Contact the City of Woodstock or Southside Aquatic Centre to book an appointment to find a costume or for donation drop-off locations. Contact Allen on Facebook at “Sarah LA” to make arrangements to donate a costume or Halloween decorations – costumes needed by Friday. 

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Costume, Halloween costume, Coronavirus, Mask

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