TARPON SPRINGS — In order to organize a special event during the coronavirus crisis, Tarpon Springs officials have been directed to think outside the box.
Taking a creative approach led recreation department staff to come up with the Trunk or Treat Drive-Thru Boo, a new spin on the city’s annual Halloween candy giveaway that will run from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 30, in the parking lots at three locations — the Community Center, Craig Park and the Splash Park. According to officials, the drive-thru-only event will feature candy purchased by the city being handed out by volunteers following all CDC recommended guidelines.
“To spread out we’re going to have it at three locations where we will have pop-up tents or trunks spaced out about 10 feet apart,” Recreation Superintendent Craig Dolan told city commissioners Sept. 22. “Everyone will have to stay in their vehicles the whole time. We won’t allow walk-ups just so everyone is safe … and everyone will be wearing masks during the event.”
Dolan noted the event was being held “in lieu of trick or treating, if parents don’t feel comfortable having their kids go around. At least this way we’ll have bags we’ll give out with candy in them to all the participants who drive through in their vehicles at the different locations.”
The news was met with kudos from several commission members who urged staff to continue to come up with creative ways to host special events moving forward.
“I think that as a whole we should start to encourage more special events to start to happen as we go into our fall and holiday season,” Commissioner Townsend Tarapani said.
Tarapani noted downtown businesses have been “feeling the pain” during the pandemic due to the lack of visitors generated by events like First Fridays, Wine Walks and other outdoor festivals, and he thinks they “should start to encourage the merchants to begin promoting those again.”
Commissioner Costa Vatikiotis concurred, stating he’d like to see the Tarpon Springs Merchants Association “move ahead with some applications to see what we could anticipate in the future recognizing that it’s somewhat up in the air right now. But it doesn’t hurt to start planning.”
Before the unanimous approval of the item, Mayor Chris Alahouzos thanked Dolan and his staff, and later elaborated on the city’s plan to bring special events back to Tarpon Springs this year.
“They’re brainstorming ideas to have events because we need to do things to bring normality back to Tarpon Springs,” Alahouzos said a few days before Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the state would move to phase three of Florida’s reopening plan Sept. 25. “The question is, how do we do it safely? So, they’re working with the TSMA to come up with ideas, and they also have to follow CDC guidelines, as well. They’re trying to come up with different ways to pull off events for now because we want to keep doing things but in a safe manner. But it’s going to be difficult because you don’t want to put people in harm’s way.”