Issue 105 - November 2020
City of Duarte Hosts Drive-Through Halloween Howl
The City of Duarte, 20 miles northeast of Los Angeles along historic U.S. Route 66, prides itself on a Parks and Recreation Department that provides healthy and wholesome programming for its approximately 21,000 residents. With COVID-19 disrupting normal operations, city staff have continued to serve the community by adapting popular events—including the time-honored Halloween Howl—to accommodate new restrictions.
“We are the entertainment of the city,” said Duarte Parks and Recreation Director Manuel Enriquez. “In the current climate, we take that responsibility very seriously, not only in terms of safety, but also in terms of maintaining normalcy for our residents: especially our young people.”
Duarte traditionally holds the Halloween Howl at Royal Oaks Park, a 5.5-acre facility with ample space for a family-friendly fun zone, costume parade, live entertainment, and stationary games, as well as tricks and treats.
This year, the carnival atmosphere was recreated in a drive-thru format at the civic center, which houses city hall, the community, fitness, and senior centers, and the Duarte Unified School District Office. The new event venue allowed for simple entry and exit and encouraged residents to remain in their vehicles while parading through trick-or-treat stations along a one-way circuit festooned with seasonal decorations. Activities were supplemented by a best-decorated vehicle competition and dancing holiday characters, as well as virtual pumpkin carving and “howl-o-ween” pet costume contests.
Planning for the event was driven in part by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s Guidelines for Celebrating Halloween and Dia de los Muertos. The guidelines endorsed events during which guests remain in their vehicles, including drive-by costume and decoration contests, drive-through Halloween displays, and drive-in trick-or-treating.
“We rely on expert guidance, including California JPIA resources, to make events safe while upholding traditions,” said Enriquez. “Reviewing public health recommendations was an integral part of identifying and solidifying our final plans.”
“The City of Duarte operates under an enterprise risk management framework and encourages employees at all levels and within all departments to manage risk,” said Senior Risk Manager Maria Galvan. “By having a risk-aware culture and conducting proactive risk assessments, the city has continued to provide safe and enriching programs to its residents during these challenging times.”
In addition to the Halloween festivities, the Duarte parks and recreation team has launched a virtual recreation center that offers free and low-cost programming for residents and implemented daily check ins and drive-through lunch options for seniors.
“I applaud my staff for taking the initiative to develop new content and to package it nicely,” said Enriquez. “We take our time and roll out new programs only when we are ready to ensure that we can keep our residents safe. We’re all in this together. We need to be mindful and respectful of one another.”
This genuine concern for public wellness and sage approach to risk management comes from the top down, with leadership from Duarte Councilmember Margaret Finlay, who currently serves as president of the California JPIA’s Executive Board.
“Councilmember Finlay’s service on the Executive Board of the California JPIA positively affects everything that we do in the City of Duarte,” said Enriquez. “She advocates to her peers, shares knowledge, and connects staff with training, webinars, and e-learning resources. It’s a benefit that positions Duarte to meet our risk and liability responsibilities. We’re very fortunate.”< Back to Full Issue Print Article