Although the annual Boo at the Creek will not go forward this year, organizers are offering an alternative event to support the Airdrie Food Bank (AFB).
The annual family-friendly Halloween event was cancelled in early August amid ongoing concerns about COVID-19. According to Paige Cairns, Boo at the Creek committee chair, the committee felt disheartened in the weeks following the decision to cancel and continued to have conversations about ways to support AFB.
The committee was then approached by local photographer Christina Barr Clouse, who usually hosts an event in November where she photographs families in exchange for food bank donations. With her project also disrupted by COVID-19, both parties agreed to combine their efforts to hold an alternative event this fall.
“We put a call out for some more photographers, and we’re really fortunate that we had a lot of people come forward to donate their time and their talent,” Cairns said.
On Halloween, Boo at the Creek will present Spooky or Sweet – an opportunity for families to have professional portraits taken in exchange for a food bank donation. Four photographers will be set up in different sections of Nose Creek Regional Park from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for 10-minute photo sessions.
Local photographers Lorie Reist, Felicity Chapdelaine and Samantha Peyton will join Barr Clouse as the photographers at the event. Cairns said each photographer will have two different backdrops – a “spooky” set up, which is more fall and Halloween-themed, and a “sweet” setup which is more in line with Christmas and winter.
Timeslots for the event filled quickly, Cairns said – within the first 24 hours, all 96 slots were full. This points to the community’s receptiveness to the event, she said.
“We have amazing support from Airdrie with Boo at the Creek and it's grown so much over the past five years,” she said. “I think as soon as people saw there was something that was going to be happening, they were excited to get on board and be a part of it.”
Several safety measures have been incorporated to avoid potentially spreading COVID-19, Cairns said. Volunteers will help direct people to where they need to go and ensure people are abiding by social distancing requirements. Families have been asked to arrive no more than 10 minutes before their session is scheduled.
The backdrops don’t have any elements that require people to sit or props for people to use, minimizing the surfaces that will need to be sanitized between the sessions.
“We are strongly not encouraging people to come down to the park if they haven’t booked a timeslot,” Cairns said. “There won’t be any walk-in timeslots available. We’ve had to do it this way to follow the guidelines and protocols of Alberta Health Services (AHS) with respect to COVID.”
While the photography sessions are completely booked, Cairns said there is another way for people to support AFB through a silent auction that will run from Oct. 15 to 31 on Boo at the Creek’s Facebook page. All proceeds will go to AFB.
“We’ve had an incredible response to asking for donations for the silent auction,” she said. “Although people can’t support now by signing up for a photo, that’s another way people can support.”
This new event aligns with the original intent of Boo at the Creek, Cairns said, which was to offer a community event that was available to anyone in Airdrie regardless of financial situation. Many families cannot afford professional family portraits, and she said organizers were excited to make them available simply in exchange for a food bank donation.
Cairns said it is unlikely organizers will incorporate the family photo sessions into future iterations of Boo at the Creek and that it would remain a one-off this year, but added those discussions have not occurred amongst the committee and other organizers may feel differently.