Rising above the challenges of lockdown in Killybegs
The north west has a new Halloween capital thanks to an immense community effort by the people of Killybegs.
The Halloween Drive-Through delighted people of all ages and is a lockdown highlight that will stay in people’s memories for years to come.
Ann Conaghan of Killybegs Community Chamber said the idea came from trying to figure out a safe way to do something for the local children at Halloween.
“We thought going into Level 5 that we probably couldn’t do anything,” she said. “Then we came up with the drive-through scenario - to ‘spook up’ the street, get people to dress up and make it interactive but at a safe distance.
“Once we got the go-ahead from the guards we were ok.”
It really was a case of all hands on deck in the port town.
Transition Year students and young people from the Killybegs Drop In Centre helped out with carving the pumpkins. Members of Killybegs Community Council and local businesses set about decorating their shop windows, and everyone put a lot of thought and effort into dressing up.
“We initially asked businesses that they would spook up their windows,” said Ms Conaghan. “Some had done so already but others had their shutters down because they were closed for lockdown. The response from everyone was fantastic. Everyone did their own business frontage.
“As we got talking to people about it, they started to say things like, ‘I have a costume, I might stand in the door.’
“So when talking to others we suggested they too could dress up if they wanted. They stayed at their own premises and where we had gaps we filled in ourselves.”
A lucky break in the atrocious Halloween weather was very much appreciated by all who were dressed up and standing on the streets.
And the response from the public was incredible.
“We couldn’t believe it,” said Ms Conaghan. “It was crazy. We thought it would last an hour and it went on for two hours. We got word that people were queuing as far back as Super Valu to get in, so we wanted to make sure that everybody especially the children got to see it.”
The organisers were appreciative of the fact that those who came along were very respectful of the importance of physical distancing.
“Everybody stuck to it and stayed in their cars,” said Ms Conaghan. “They saw the point of why it was important.”
Ms Conaghan and her Community Council colleagues are extremely grateful for the effort that people put into making this a Halloween to remember.
“All of the Halloween witches, ghouls, goblins and ghosts on the street were all brilliant,” she said. “The volunteers really got into the swing of it and they were brilliant.
“The effort people put into the costumes was brilliant. Everybody had to do their own and sort their own so people really had to use their heads. McGinley’s actually had somebody in the shop window. It was excellent.”
Ms Conaghan also thanked shops in Killybegs that had been giving out sweets to children during the day.
“I felt very proud of the community and the businesses that were involved in making Halloween a very special day for local children,” she said.
Ms Conaghan wishes to thank Community Council members, businesses, TY students and Drop In members; Super Valu, Hegarty’s Centra and Mrs B’s for sponsoring the pumpkins; Mooney Boats and everyone who sponsored or lent decorations; New Peking Chinese Restaurant for supplying electricity; Niall Mór Childcare Centre for the scarecrows; Seoirse Ellison for hay; Prionsais Murray for branches; and An Garda Síochana for all their help in managing a completely unexpected volume of traffic.
Ms Conaghan also thanked members of the public and the businesses that were serving take away food for their patience.
“We made sure that anyone who was coming in to collect take aways could get through on foot,” she said. “A special word of thanks to the Fleet Inn, Taj and the New Peking for bearing with us.”
Ms Conaghan added a huge thanks to everyone who contributed in any way, and all the families who came along to enjoy the occasion.
“Given the times that we are in it felt like a really special community effort,” she said.
After all their hard work, Killybegs Community Council members are not planning on putting their feet up.
“Christmas is the next thing we are working on!” said Ms Conaghan.
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