MUSCATINE — With COVID-19 still active, it may be hard to continue some holiday traditions this year.
A local haunt wants you to know a pandemic can’t stop Halloween spirit — especially when it’s being used for a good cause.
Last Friday, Troy “Stinky” Philpott announced on Facebook he would not hold his usual haunt, “Stinky’s House of Horrors” on 911 East 11th Street, due to safety concerns regarding COVID-19.
Philpott has held Stinky’s for nearly 25 years and has never canceled.
“We were just kind of getting stuff lined up but not really working on it yet,” he said, “We were just starting to put things together and decide what we were going to do, and the whole team sat down and we discussed what everyone’s opinions were.”
It was agreed to forgo the full haunt this year, as they didn't know if they could keep everyone safe.
“As long as I can figure out a way to make sure the food drive goes on, that’s the important part," Philpott said.
So that part is still on. The food drive will last eight days, from October 24 to 31. Details will be forthcoming, but he plans to collect food during day and evening hours.
“Anybody that works first, second or third, somewhere in there is going to be a time where if they want to drop food off, we will be there,” he said.
He hopes to collect 6,000 pounds of food, so he can help refill local food pantries drained by the pandemic.
“I really believe that we’ll beat last year’s in-take,” he said. “I think a lot of people are realizing that the pandemic has affected their food pantries and will want to help. I trust Muscatine, and I have a funny feeling that the citizens and the community here are going to step up.”
For those who may still want their annual scare, guests can experience a "short and sweet" version of the House of Horrors when they drop off their donations.
“We’re going to try and make it a little more interactive for the people that do show up,” he said.
He will decorate an enclosed trailer, donated by Jim and Amber Chesmore, people can walk through. It will be limited to two or three people at a time, all wearing face coverings.
“People can walk through (the trailer), go in the tail end of it, and then exit through the side door,” he said. “They don’t have to worry about touching anything or anybody touching them or getting close to them. That’s important to a lot of people right now, so we decided to go that way.” Though it may not be a normal haunted house, Philpott believes that fans of his haunts will still enjoy it.
Other attractions will be set up, too, like a bouncy ball shoot for kids, a food catapult, a "human rotisserie" that will shoot flames with each donation, and a spot on the hillside near Stinky’s to watch classic black and white horror movies.
“I’m starting from scratch, so there’s going to be a lot of trial and error,” Philpott said. “But I think it’ll turn out well. We’re not going to overdo it.”
Stinky’s will sell merchandise this year, including homemade costume prosthetics, masks, stickers and more. “Anything we can do to raise a little bit more, we’re going to do it.”
While there may not be as many "frights" for food this year, Stinky’s new 2020 slogan still sums up what the House of Horrors event is truly all about: “We have the need… the need to feed.”