Emma Corwin, left, hands out a bingo card and screening questionnaire Saturday’s at the start of the Costume Hike at Lake George Regional Park in Canaan. Taylor Abbott/Morning Sentinel

CANAAN — As families look for safer ways to celebrate Halloween, Skowhegan Outdoors offered an outdoor alternative at Lake George Regional Park.

For the first time, Skowhegan Outdoors, a project of Main Street Skowhegan, hosted a costume hike at Lake George Regional Park and community members were invited to dress up and participate on a short hike on the Pinnacle Trail, clad with a bingo board to go along with a scavenger hunt throughout the walk. The trail was about a mile and a half long from start to finish.

Saturday’s event was hosted alongside Maine School Administrative District 54’s REACH After School Program. Program director Dawn Fickett says that because of the pandemic, the number of students served has shifted and now operates on an invite-only basis opposed to it’s previous open enrollment. The program currently serves 80 students from Bloomfield Elementary, Margaret Chase Smith School and Skowhegan Area Middle School, down from last year’s 250, with a slow trickle of students being invited in.

“It’s an academic-based program which focuses on community service, literacy and STEM,” Fickett said. “In normal times we have served 250 kids, but this year we’re building those numbers on a slow-trickle.”

Under the Community Learning Center Grant, Fickett says that REACH must provide family engagement opportunities as well as educational opportunities for parents; since events are not able to be hosted in school facilities, the next step was to reach out to community partners of the organization.

“Skowhegan Outdoors does some really good outdoor programs with community members and families,” Fickett said. “We reached out to collaborate and cooked up this idea. It seems like it can be a safe way for us to get our families out here and our kiddos.”


Kristina Cannon, executive director of Main Street Skowhegan, said that attendance of events hosted by Skowhegan Outdoors has nearly tripled in comparison to last summer. Each week, Skowhegan Outdoors hosts three programs for community members to participate in.

“I think because of the pandemic people are coming out because they need something to do,” Cannon said. “It’s safe and we’re very strict on our COVID protocols. We want to make sure that people have something to do that is safe and being outside and exercising makes you feel better physically and mentally.”

Of the 42 people registered, about 30 attended. Masks were required and families were encouraged to safely distance their groups from others while hiking on the trails. Families were asked COVID-19 screening questions.

Beginning around 2:15 p.m., Emma Corwin and Mara Kavanaugh of Main Street Skowhegan gathered the attendees together to go over expectations and kick off the hike.

Jacob, 13, left, and Lyle Works, 11, arrived in costumes for Saturday’s hike up Pinnacle Trail at Lake George Regional Park in Canaan. Taylor Abbott/Morning Sentinel

Among the attendees were the Works family — mother Eleasha and brothers Jacob and Lyle. Typically, the family dresses up and goes trick-or-treating, but due to the pandemic, they shifted their plans. This year, Eleasha said, the family will be participating in the hike and having a family dinner afterward.

“We usually go trick-or-treating,” Eleasha said. “We’re just going to go home and make a special dinner and watch a movie. We just want to take it easy. We’re happy to get out and get active, it’s a beautiful day for it today.”

Kavanaugh, of Main Street Skowhegan, says that a lot of conversations were had prior to the hike, coming just a day after Somerset County was deemed “yellow” under the Department of Education’s reopening advisory system for schools. On Saturday, Maine Center for Disease Control reported 101 new cases of COVID-19.

“We had some long conversations. We decided to go for it because we’re an outdoor program and we’ve been very adamant about using hand sanitizer; everybody is required to wear a mask, we try to stay 6 feet apart as much as possible,” Kavanaugh said. Since it’s an outdoor program and we’re hoping everybody can spread out on the trail and still have a fun time, we wanted to go for it.”

Throughout the trail, organizers set up a scavenger hunt for families to work on; upon exiting, each child received a candy bag. The group also hosted Full Moon Yoga at the same location on Saturday evening.

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