October 16, 2021

Scaring up some Halloween fun

Cortland parade goes virtual, but Homer haunted house is still live

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

Jim Coon walks through the Chiller Haunted House he’s building Thursday outside the Homer Center for the Arts. It’s outside again this year, a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The goblins, superheroes and TV show characters will be abound again this Halloween season in Cortland County, though how and where will depend on the location.

In Cortland, the traditional Halloween parade, where people wear costumes and make their way down Main Street, will shift to a virtual format this year, said Amanda Funk, the past exalted ruler of Cortland Elks Lodge 748.

People can submit photos of themselves or family members in costumes to the group’s Facebook event, she said.

People will have from Oct. 20 to Nov. 3 to vote on their favorite.

Details on prizes are still being worked on, she said.

“I’m excited we’re moving forward with at least a virtual option,” Funk said.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the lodge did not host any form of the parade in 2020, opting instead for a costume closet where people could pick out costumes at no cost, she said.

This year, while not being able to gather in-person, Funk said this year’s event is to “promote the spirit of Halloween, but respect the community and prevent the spread of COVID.”


To join the fun

  • To participate in the Cortland Elks Lodge 748 costume show, submit your pictures beginning Oct. 20 to the lodge’s Virtual Halloween Parade page at tinyurl.com/vtetnrk. People without a Facebook account can email pictures to cortlandelkslodge748@gmail.com or drop off copies at the lodge, 9 Groton Ave., Cortland between 3 and 7 p.m. on weekdays.
  • The Chiller Haunted House
    opens tonight at the Center for the Arts in Homer, and will continue through Sunday, then Oct. 15 to 17 and Oct. 22 and 23.

An annual event that is almost 40 years old will continue as mostly normal this year in the form of the Chiller Haunted House at the Center for the Arts of Homer, said Jim Coon, a volunteer with the center and the originator of the haunted house. Like last year, the event will be outside the center, rather than inside as in previous years.

Guests will get to walk through the maze-like set up decorated like a bed and breakfast.

“The theme is rest in peace,” Coon said.

The event was held last year as it was outside and everyone was masked, he said.

While the Delta variant of COVID-19 has caused him some concern with case numbers rising, Coon said he thinks this year’s event will be safe.

Guests must be masked and adhere to social distancing.

“It’s something the county enjoys,” he said.

Guests will be required to mask and social distance when inside, Coon said.

The event runs today through Sunday, Oct. 15 through 17, and Oct. 22 through 23, according to the center’s website.

Tickets are $3 and tours start at 7 p.m. nightly. Reservations are encouraged but walk-ups are welcome.

Coon suggests that parents unsure if the event is too scary for their children should attend it first alone and then decide.

“You know your child better than we do,” he said.

Additionally, with recent rain, the ground may be slippery.

Officials in Marathon, Dryden and Groton could not be reached this week regarding events.