Halloween pulls at my heartstrings. I love it so much that even Christmas comes in second. Maybe it’s thanks to all the beautiful fall colors or the excitement of digging out my favorite sweaters. Or perhaps it’s the smell of pumpkin spice flooding the air. I daydream about wrapping myself in a warm blanket with a book in hand, sipping a mug of rich hot cocoa. Or maybe it’s the nostalgic feeling of innocence surrounding Halloween and the permission to get away with dressing up as whatever I want.
Unfortunately, since I lost walking abilities, Halloween hasn’t been easy to take part in. I hadn’t noticed how many homes have front porch steps until I went trick-or-treating in a wheelchair. My friends, helpful as always, would bring my candy bag to the door and fill it up for me. But it still wasn’t the same. It soon became clear that if I wanted to have a Halloween experience, I’d have to get creative.
Today’s column is all about finding fun, wheelchair-accessible ways to enjoy your Halloween.
Online resources like Yelp and Groupon are useful for finding local festivals and events. Yelp even has a wheelchair-accessible filter that finds places and events that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Users of the app often provide pictures of events and buildings, which decreases the chances of winding up stuck somewhere that isn’t wheelchair friendly.
Many churches put on a fun, kid-friendly soirée called “Trunk or Treat.” Church members elaborately deck out the trunks of their parked cars and hand out candy. This is excellent if your child has a disability because it allows them to fill up their candy bag or bucket by simply rolling past. Some churches may have other games and activities to enjoy as well.
Last year, while scrolling through Groupon for Halloween activities, I happened upon a deal for tickets to The Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor in Long Beach, California. I did loads of research by browsing videos and pictures of the event to ensure it was wheelchair-accessible.
It’s hard to find events that aren’t super gory or childish, but Dark Harbor was the perfect medium. My experience last year was so awesome that I went back last week.
I was impressed with how the ghouls and other employees at Dark Harbor go out of their way to make it a fun-filled night for everybody, including me. They were never hesitant to scare me or play tricks on me, which I loved. Three of the seven mazes at Dark Harbor are handicapped-accessible, and the cast members helped me navigate them by directing me where to go and by letting me know what to expect.
The entire night at the Queen Mary was nonstop entertainment with sword swallowers, contortionists, and aerialists. There’s little room to get bored with the food, shows, and ghouls lurking around every corner. Unlike Disneyland or Knott’s Scary Farm, Dark Harbor is not an enormous event, so it is not overly crowded. I was able to fully immerse myself in the surrounding happenings without worry of running over someone’s foot.
Halloween should be a night of pure fun; a night to release your inner kid, wild and free. Everyone should be able to have a Halloween to remember.
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