Alyssa Gerwing, executive director of the Sidney Museum and Archives, gets into the Halloween spirit with a lit-up jack-o-lantern. With Treat Street cancelled, the Sidney Business Improvement Area Society has organized a series of other events and activities under the heading of Halloween Spooktacular. (Wolfgang Depner/News Staff)

Alyssa Gerwing, executive director of the Sidney Museum and Archives, gets into the Halloween spirit with a lit-up jack-o-lantern. With Treat Street cancelled, the Sidney Business Improvement Area Society has organized a series of other events and activities under the heading of Halloween Spooktacular. (Wolfgang Depner/News Staff)

Sidney serves up ghoulish spills and thrills during Halloween

A virtual Halloween treasure hunt and scary drive-in movies among tricks and treats

A synthesis of real-life acting and technology will have its ghoulish premier in Sidney as part of local Halloween activities, which will look very different because of COVID-19.

Billed as Vancouver Island’s first full sensory immersion experience, the hunt organized by One Voice Institute runs from 4-6 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. on Oct. 30 and 31 with the Sidney Pier Hotel & Spa serving as start and finish point.

People participating in this immersive experience titled a Myriad Experience will first enter a room at the hotel equipped with state-of-the-art technology that creates an augmented reality without the use of headsets or goggles.

“It tells a story (titled the 13th Hour) and it immerses people in the sights and sounds and smells of the story,” said Rosanna Pittella, a senior consultant with One Voice Institute, a Victoria-based company. “The immersion experience is created through very high-tech sound and also special projectors that emit in 360 degrees. So that is very different than the flat video that you would see come out of a normal projector.”

Participants then swarm the community to look for clues, collecting their findings in a booklet before returning to the hotel for a resolution of the story and additional culinary, with participants eligible to win various prizes, ranging from a free one night stay at the hotel to various types of gift baskets.

Along the way, they meet what Pittella calls “other-world mystical creatures” that are part of the story. “But these are live-actors and actresses that are dressed, so the kids can see them and talk to them, properly distanced of course. And they will be providing them with clues and also candy bags,” she said.

RELATED: Sidney’s Treat Street turns Beacon Avenue into a colourful nightmare of horrors

In staging this treasure hunt, One Voice Institute is working with Enigmatic Events Collective, a company that creates interactive events.

‘They wrote the story for us and also they did the acting that is captured in the motion experience,” she said. “And that is the other point. It’s not technology replacing people. The idea is to take technology and merge it with live art.”

One Voice Institute has scheduled comparable events for the Christmas season in helping the local hospitality industry by triggering economic growth.

“We are trying to help them make up for the business that they lost in 2020 in 2021,” she said.

This virtual ghost hunt is one of several events happening in Sidney over Halloween weekend. Central to this year’s celebration is Halloween Spooktacular that started Oct. 23 and runs through Oct. 31 as organized by the Sidney Business Improvement Area Society.

During the past five years, Treat Street turned Beacon Avenue into a teeming mall of trick-or-treaters wearing every imaginable costume from traditional fairy tales and contemporary pop culture, as businesses open their stores for local trick-or-treaters, as well as their parents, many of whom also dress up.

This year’s cancellation of Treat Street might mean that Beacon Avenue will be less colourful, but not necessarily less ghoulish as storefronts along Beacon Avenue get in the spirit of the season with their own displays and activities

For example, Sidney Museum has been running a museum-wide jack o’lantern hunt, with jack o’lanterns hidden throughout all the exhibits.

Participating children have been receiving a pre-packaged bag of candy and entered a draw to win the main prize: a $100 gift card from Buddies Toys, with winners drawn Nov. 2.

The museum will also run panels on topics such as the history of Halloween, trick-or-treating’s roots in the European traditions of ‘mumming,’ ‘souling,’ and ‘guising’ and more. A haunted house made out of LEGO and other spooky decorations gives the place the appropriate aura.

Fans of scary movies will also get their fill this week, starting Thursday, when the Mary Winspear hosts the first of three drive-in movie nights with two showings each evening, the first one being a kid friendly early show (Hotel Transylvania), with the later show (Ghostbusters) catering to adults, those nostalgic for the 1980s and fans of Bill Murray.


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wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com