Popular San Jose Halloween displays prepare for safe viewing during COVID-19 pandemic

Amanda del Castillo Image
Saturday, October 31, 2020
SJ Halloween displays prepare for safe viewing during COVID-19
Over a typical Halloween weekend, San Jose's "Boo Crew" could see up to 3,500 people per night. Things are different this year, but they've still found a way to bring the Halloween spirit to the community.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Over a typical Halloween weekend, the Boo Crew on Church Drive in San Jose could see up to 3,500 people per night.

The tradition of building elaborate haunted house displays goes back 20 years for Robert Schiro.

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"If it was normal year, it would be extension cords, people everywhere, a mile a minute getting things done," Schiro said. "Lots of people driving by curious about what's happening, and us just working full force to fulfill what we do here."

Beginning in August, the core Boo Crew of about 20 people get to work.

"The first weekend of August, the first bolt goes in the driveway," he told ABC7 News. "And we start resurrecting the theme that we choose that year. It takes us about a four-month journey to get to where we're going."

However, the usual four-months of preparation is not needed during the pandemic.

This year, Schiro and his father crafted a COVID-19-safe pumpkin patch for the public to enjoy at a distance.

"I still wanted to have something that we can feel good about," Schiro shared. "And have the spirit of Halloween- and what we all do as a team- on a scale that is more of a visual drive-by and walk-by."

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Farther south, ABC7 News found people even biking-by.

Matthew Howard and his family shifted their annual Harry Potter House display closer to the street, this year.

"We took all of our displays, shifted their focus more towards the street so that you can see it from the street," Howard said. "It wouldn't be a walkthrough anymore."

Additionally, Howard has added x's on the ground so visitors can be mindful of keeping socially distanced.

"The other years, we had people walking up to the front door, we had things kind of in our entryway up to the front door, clumps of people everywhere for hours," he explained. "We had people standing around for 45 minutes last year, looking at all the details in the window. So, it shifted a little this year, but it's the best we can do with COVID."

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There are also Harry Potter themed proclamations fit for the pandemic.

"Muggles must wear masks and all muggles must stand six feet apart," Howard read. "So, just still kind of keep up with the theme, but letting everyone understand that we're serious. We want this to be safe for everyone."

Less trick, more treat for kids, and much needed positivity for parents.

"They were worried about, how are they going to tell their children that one more thing is canceled," Howard said. "Luckily, we thought this is something we can do safely and provide the opportunity to still have a little feeling of normalcy."

Both displays serve as reminders that Halloween isn't canceled because of COVID-19, rather reimagined.

The displays are opened over the Halloween weekend.

For more information on the Boo Crew's set up, click here.

For more information on the Harry Potter House, click here.

Go here for the latest news and videos about Halloween 2020.