The first year of the socially distanced trick-or-treating event Drive-Thru Boo went out with a bang on Thursday, after hundreds of cars flocking to Preisker Park led to a major traffic backup to Highway 101.
The event, organized by the Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Department, was scheduled to last from 6 to 8 p.m. but was shut down by California Highway Patrol after one hour, Recreation Services Manager Dennis Smitherman said.
About 200 cars made it through the drive-through before cars had to be turned away.
"It was crazy. We were getting visitors from all of our local towns," Smitherman said. "It was our first year, so we had no way to know it would be so big."
For families who did make it through, however, the event was a success, with volunteers dressed in elaborate costumes handing out candy from 30 booths set up by both businesses and nonprofit organizations.
To add to the fun, staff from Los Flores Ranch Park brought along Little Bear, a miniature horse who serves as the park's unofficial mascot, and Obie, a large Gypsy Vanner horse, both in costumes.
While some residents were frustrated about not getting to experience the event after waiting for over an hour, many were grateful the city made the effort to put on a creative event despite the limitations of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Thank you for all of your efforts. COVID-19, this pandemic, is new to all of us. I appreciate the planning and caring about the community," one resident posted on Facebook.
Smitherman said that while the event didn't go exactly as planned, it was great to see families enjoying the Halloween spirit.
"The families that got through it thought it was a really nice time," he said.
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