The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Halloween Carnival is definitely going to happen

Confusion still abounds as mailings, posters conflict on schedules


Valdez Star file photo

Halloween traditions in Valdez are a pretty big deal. Kids traditionally trick or treat local businesses after school before attending the carnival at the school. First National Bank Alaska in Valdez always goes this distance to make it fun for kids and adults.

The annual Halloween Carnival at Hermon Hutchens Elementary School gym is happening this year. Same place, same time. This is the official word from Todd Wegner, Ashley Nye-Vollmer and Jacob Jensen.

While October is always a spooky time of year, something really scary happened when the city’s Dept. of Parks & Rec cancelled the event, and instead planned a bonfire and other outdoor events in its place.

“We’re back on with the carnival,” Wegner, acting city manager, said in an interview late Thursday afternoon after an emergency meeting with Jensen, district superintendent for Valdez City Schools.

“My special events coordinator (Nye-Volmer of parks and rec) said we couldn’t use our regular venue (Hermon Hutchens Elementary School gym) because of some flooring issues,” Wegner said before the carnival was put back on the schedule. “There’s been some backlash and people are wanting it.”

Within hours of the first interview, Wegner had a meeting with Jensen, and the flooring issue was resolved and the carnival reinstated at its home at the elementary school gym.

Parks and Rec had planned a bonfire at Dock Point to replace the carnival event. That plan has been abandoned and canceled for good according to Nye-Vollmer.

“I didn’t know that was a thing that was going on,” Jensen said of the canceled carnival and now defunct bonfire plan. “My personal children would kill me if we didn’t have that thing – and I don’t want to die!”

The bonfire plan was hatched after Jensen asked if the carnival could be re-located from the school gym. The old wood floors had recently been refurbished by the city and then the refurbishment had to be repaired after the building’s fire sprinklers failed and damaged a large portion of the floor. The hunt for a new venue faltered and the bonfire plan put into effect. Strong community support – and pressure – brought it back.

Valdez Star photo

Pati Washam of Connecting Ties shows one of many boxes of Halloween carnival supplies the nonprofit organization purchased for the annual fundraiser before the city’s parks and recreation department canceled the long-standing event. Fortunately, the event was put back on the schedule.

“Those outdoor activities are totally cancelled,” Nye-Vollmer said.

The Halloween Carnival is one of the town’s best attended public events of the year. Boosters say the event keeps kids off the streets during Halloween and provides good, clean fun for the whole family. It also serves as a fundraising event for a large number of the town’s service organizations. School clubs, nonprofits and other groups sponsor booths featuring games, goodies and prizes for attendees.

“I’m very glad the carnival is a go,” Tina Russell of Connecting Ties said after the event was rescheduled. “I can’t ever remember not doing the Halloween Carnival.”

Like many public service organizations, Connecting Ties had already spent a good deal of time and money on supplies for the carnival, including a food permit from the DEC and boxes and boxes of toy prizes for game giveaways.

“A lot of planning goes into it,” Russell said.


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