Marin Center Offers Drive-Thru Alternative to Trick-or-Treating

While Marin County continues to reopen the economy in a measured and safe way to slow the spread of Covid-19, the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is discouraging the usual Halloween activities like door-to-door trick-or-treating or large multi-household parties.

The bad news is that trick-or-treating will encourage touching surfaces like doorbells, door handles, and candy bowls, and that makes it more difficult to maintain physical distancing. In addition, Halloween parties that require congregating in groups will increase the risk of transmitting Covid-19.

The good news is that families who want to celebrate Halloween this year can dress in costume and visit the Halloween Fair Food Drive-Thru Spooktacular at the Marin Center in San Rafael. Opening October 23, and running daily through November 1, the drive-thru celebration features family-friendly activities that families can enjoy while staying inside their cars.

The doctor-approved Spooktacular, presented by the Marin County Department of Cultural Services and operated by the same team that presents the Marin County Fair each year, first and foremost offers festive treats and county fair food.

Kids will love the Halloween-themed pumpkin and ghost candy apples, black-and-orange cotton candy and more; and the whole family can order from a bevy of delectable delights like funnel cake, churros, kettle corn, caramel corn, and strawberry lemonade.

Also on the menu are county fair staples like giant corndogs, turkey legs, Greek gyros, tri-tip sandwiches, ribs and deep-fried Oreos. A selection of Halloween-themed adult beverages will also be available (to take and drink at home).

Beyond the food, families will be able to drive through a series of spooky attractions, with Halloween-themed “lands” featuring animatronic dinosaurs, skeletons and other seasonal scares. Attendees can also download the Spooktacular Drive-Thru Tunes playlist on Spotify to play in their cars while they cruise through the haunted highlights.

On Halloween, Saturday, Oct. 31, the Spooktacular goes all out with live music by the Las Gallinas Sanitary District Non-Marching Band, aka The Sewer Band, who will perform spooky tunes from 3pm to 6pm. The Marin County Free Library will also get in on the fun and give out free activity books, bookmarks, stickers and pencils  on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, from 11am to 8pm.

The Marin Center notes that the drive-thru event will prioritize the safety of its guests and vendors. All event staff will wear face coverings and gloves and will sanitize frequently as they deliver the packaged food.

The Spooktacular is the first time the Marin Center or the Fairgrounds has been open to the public since March 13, per the shelter-in-place mandate that went up in the face of the pandemic.

“In our Fair history, this is one of the most challenging times we have encountered,” says Gabriella Calicchio, Director of Cultural Services at Marin County, in a recent statement on the Marin Fair’s website. “Our utmost goal is to support the efforts to flatten the curve of the Covid-19 pandemic and soar into the future with even more resilience. We hope everyone will stay safe and creatively engaged at home and we look forward to serving our community, clients, partners, vendors and Fair family through this crisis.”

The Halloween Fair Food Drive-Thru Spooktacular runs from Friday, Oct. 23, to Sunday, Nov. 1, at Marin Center, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. The Spooktacular will be open from 4pm to 9pm on weekdays and 11am to 9pm on weekends. Admission is $10 per car; food is available to purchase. Get details and see menus at

Charlie Swanson
Charlie Swanson is a North Bay native and an arts and music writer and editor who has covered the local scene since 2014.
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