CARLSBAD — It is perhaps the spookiest tradition in the past 15 years.
Bressi Ranch has become one of the region’s biggest draws for Halloween and trick-or-treaters as the neighborhood blows out decorations, music and candy. Oh, the candy.
In a typical year, thousands of kids donned in their scariest, or more creative, costumes flood the streets leading to a logjam waiting to get in, said resident Bill Walsh. But the COVID-19 pandemic is bringing a more tepid approach this year with many of the usual residents opting out of decorating their homes.
“Every year it’s gotten crazier and crazier,” Walsh said. “In years past, I’d have to leave work early because if I left past 4 p.m., I couldn’t get into my neighborhood. It’s just fun and everyone is very festive.”
Still, dozens of homes are not letting the pandemic take away their displays, although giving out candy is another story.
Walsh said it all started about 15 years ago with one home starting a small, spooky pirate ship. Two years later, a neighbor joined in and several other homes came on board the following year.
In a non-pandemic year, Pirate Alley also brings in a food truck and engages in a block party. Or as Walsh said of his neighborhood, “it’s Mardi Gras with kids.”
Within a couple of years, an armada of homes along Peppertree Way joined in on the pirate theme, giving birth to “Pirate Alley,” Walsh said. And the rest of the neighborhood joined in, with some going for skeleton surfers, “Star Wars,” “Ghostbusters,” clowns and even a frightening farmer’s market.
“This year, we will see how it is with COVID and how many people come out,” Walsh said. “We’re not even sure if our governments or our mayor will want us to do it at all.”
Sometimes, the zombie craze of kid’s bull-rushing through the neighborhood for candy comes at a price. Homes have run out, requiring a mad dash to the grocery store for more.
Walsh said he, along with most of his neighbors, will go through hundreds of bags each year.
It has become such a destination, he said, that the little kids will descend on the neighborhood by 4 p.m. on Halloween, with the older kids coming around dusk. And the trick-or-treaters won’t slow down until sometime after 9 p.m., Walsh said.
The early rush can cause delays of up to 30 minutes for people to enter the neighborhood due to the crowds and narrow roads in Bressi Ranch. The residents have also taken up a contest for best decorations, which was crowned by one of the city councilmembers last year. The festivities include incorporating music in some of the residences.
“It’s the wild, wild West,” Walsh said.