"It’s a tricky year for Halloween" given the pandemic but SeaWorld San Diego says it's moving ahead with its annual "Spooktacular" festivities, scheduled for weekend evenings from Oct. 2 to Nov. 1.
The park, which reopened in late August, is one of the few California theme parks celebrating this year after its neighbors, including Disneyland and Universal Studios, canceled their Halloween events due to COVID-19. Halloween events at their Florida parks are canceled as well.
California's health secretary reported Friday that the state has recently seen an uptick in the number of newly confirmed cases as well as COVID-19-related ER visits and hospitalizations. According to state data, California has reported a 6.3% increase in new cases over the past 14 days.
Dr. Mark Ghaly said the trends appear largely attributable to the Labor Day holiday at the beginning of September but cautioned the trends could lead to an 89% increase in hospitalizations in the next month.
As of Friday, the California Department of Public Health had recorded more than 802,000 cases and upward of 15,500 deaths.
Nevertheless, SeaWorld San Diego's website has declared, "Have no fear. Halloween’s still here!". It advertises "playful characters" and seasonal decorations along with tasty treats including candy to help visitors get into the All Hallow's Eve spirit.
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The site also boasts events including a "Spooky Shark Encounter," "Cookie Decorating with Cookie Monster and Elmo," a "Sesame Street Halloween Dance Party," a "Monster Mash" dance party complete with a DJ, a "Pumpkin Scavenger Hunt" and a "Spooktacular Candy Trail," among other offerings.
"It’s all waiting for your family, with new safety procedures to put your mind at ease," the site adds, listing health and safety precautions that include face coverings for visitors ages 2 and up and physical distancing.
In addition, advanced reservations are required and tickets are date-specific. And while the event is free for pass-holders, reservations are still mandatory.
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Contributing: Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: SeaWorld San Diego announces 'Spooktacular' Halloween is still on