Photo courtesy Queen Anne Chamber of Commerce: Trick or Treat on the Ave, where thousands of children in costume visit Queen Anne businesses and receive candy has been a popular activity in past years. This year the event has been canceled because of COVID-19 and social-distancing concerns. In its place, the Queen Anne Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a pumpkin-carving contest.
Photo courtesy Queen Anne Chamber of Commerce: Trick or Treat on the Ave, where thousands of children in costume visit Queen Anne businesses and receive candy has been a popular activity in past years. This year the event has been canceled because of COVID-19 and social-distancing concerns. In its place, the Queen Anne Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a pumpkin-carving contest.

The Queen Anne Chamber of Commerce is searching for other holiday activities to replace regular events this fall that had to be canceled because of COVID-19 concerns.

Charley Shore, Queen Anne Chamber of Commerce executive director, said chamber board members decided the fall and winter holiday events usually scheduled in Queen Anne will not look the same this year out of caution. She said, because of COVID-19, the chamber can’t in good conscience host any event that will put people at risk.

“It’s really been such a huge difference, especially this year, because it’s been so bleak,” Shore said.

First, Trick or Treat on the Ave has been canceled. The event started quite a few years ago and eventually morphed into a popular event where business owners distribute candy to thousands of trick or treaters for a couple of hours in celebration of Halloween.

Shore said the chamber explored different ideas on how to have the event but decided it must be put off for a year because social distancing cannot be guaranteed.

“It’s done with a heavy heart,” Shore said. “It’s so disappointing, for us especially. We really look forward to it.”

To help make up for the cancellation, instead, the chamber is hosting a pumpkin-carving contest.

Shore said one of the chamber’s partners will be donating 200 pumpkins, which will be distributed beginning Oct. 7 at HomeStreet Bank and Queen Anne Bookstore.

Shore said the pumpkins are free but are intended for the pumpkin-carving contest. Families will be asked to fill out a registration form when they pick up a pumpkin.

When families are done carving the pumpkins, people should submit a photo the finished jack o’lantern to the chamber. Shore said families are encouraged to include children, adults and pets in costume posing with the pumpkins. The photos should then be emailed to info@queenannechamber.org, and they will be posted on the chamber’s social media pages. On Oct. 26, the pictures will be judged, and the winners given a prize, likely gift cards donated from businesses and local merchants.

Chamber organizers hope families get creative with the pumpkin designs and their costumes. Shore cautions that the chamber will not accept entries that are political in nature or graphic and “gross” and not suitable for everyone to see.

“It can be fun and fantasy and have more than one person in the picture,” Shore said. “We’re really opening it up so everybody can have fun with it.”

The chamber is also considering options for events later in the season.

“Again, we are in the beginning stages of deciding what we can do,” Shore said.

As of now, the chamber still intends to decorate the trees on Queen Anne Avenue with holiday lights, despite the expense. Shore said it costs the chamber more than $20,000 each year but sponsorships from merchants and donations from community members have helped offset the cost.

“So, it’s a beautiful time of year for that, but it’s a challenge,” Shore said.

With so many businesses and residents experiencing financial hardships, however, chamber members are still evaluating whether the event can be done in full. Shore said how many trees are decorated depends on sponsorships. For $225, people can sponsor a tree by going to the chamber website.

Another popular event that will look different is the Holiday Magic and Grand Tree Lighting event. The grand tree lighting will not take place this year because it encourages people to gather. The Holiday Magic event, where businesses throw their doors open to the public and serve cookies or cider, may become a holiday sidewalk sale, instead.

“But I really don’t see that going away,” Shore said. “I think that’s really important because it’s revenue for our merchants.”

The chamber will still be hosting its annual business awards and holiday luncheon, but this year the events will be combined and virtual.

Shore said she and other chamber members are still thinking of other activities that could take place in lieu of the regular ones.

She said the chamber welcomes Queen Anne residents and all merchants to offer their suggestions or thoughts on future events.

“I think that there’s just so much going on that I’m up for doing anything for making people stay connected somehow, while being safe,” Shore said.

Email comments or suggestions on holiday activities to the chamber at info@queenannechamber.org.