Everything is different this year – but “different” can still be really fun. Fortunately for all of us, there are several pandemic-safe holiday events coming up including the Moab Valley Multicultural Center’s Day of the Dead, a Spooky Moab Story Hour on KZMU in partnership with the Grand County Public Library, and a Halloween pumpkin walk by Homewood Suites by Hilton Moab with proceeds benefiting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Day of the Dead

For nearly a decade, the MVMC (156 N. 100 West) has held an annual Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) celebration, and will again this year on Sunday, Nov. 1 from noon to 5 p.m. – though it will be a simpler affair than in years past.

“First and foremost, our top priority is to maintain the integrity of the meaning of the event while doing everything we can to keep everybody safe with COVID precautions,” said Rhiana Medina, director of the MVMC.

Day of the Dead honors loved ones who have passed and can be traced back to indigenous festivals across the Americas and aligns with the celebration in Western Christianity of All Saints Eve and Day as well as All Souls Day.

While previously MVMC’s Day of the Dead festivities have included a large food tent, kids’ activity tent, and live music, those have been put on hold this year, though there is still an opportunity to decorate altars and tombs for loved ones who have died – humans or pets – and to view these during the celebration. Viewings will be limited to small groups doing self-guided tours. Masks will be required, and there will be MVMC masks made by local company Pipe Dream available for sale. Those wanting more information or who wish to create an altar or tomb should contact the MVMC.

There will also be an exhibit titled Memories of the Quarantine / Memorias de la Cuarentena which is a display of excerpts from interviews done by Moab community member Monica Piñera just as the COVID-19 crisis hit this past spring. The exhibit is in both Spanish and English.

Piñera said the exhibit showcases the lived experiences of her interview subjects during that time, including “their fears, their loneliness … changes in their lives, the new routine, their canceled or postponed plans.”

Medina said the MVMC felt the exhibit fit with the intention of the Day of the Dead, as so many have died of COVID and Day of the Dead is “a time when we reflect on our own lives” and on mortality, as well as remembering the ones who have died.

The MVMC is also taking orders for handmade tamales now through Oct. 23, $12 for a half-dozen. The tamales will be made with freshly ground masa from organic, non-GMO corn, and they will be made in a traditional way by a group of Ute persons in Colorado. Tamales with chicken and tomatillo sauce or pork and red chile sauce are available. Tamale orders will be available for pick up at the MVMC during the Day of the Dead celebration. You may place an order on the MVMC’s website or by calling the MVMC office.

Day of the Dead is typically one of the MVMC’s larger fundraising events of the year. Proceeds support its programming with the mission of “building bridges across language and culture through family support, community collaboration and education.”

Another huge autumn-time fundraising event for the MVMC was canceled this year: the live performance Dancing With the Moab Stars. However, the MVMC has made a 40-minute-long film compiling highlights from the last six years of local “celebrities” and their instructors – including dance footage and behind-the-scenes glimpses – that will be shown at the Center Street Ballpark on Thursday, Oct. 29 at 6 p.m. Social distancing will be practiced and the MVMC advises attendees to bring something to sit on.

The MVMC is available by phone at 435-259-5444. The website is moabmc.org.

Spooky Moab Story Hour

Have you ever crossed paths with the River Witch? Have tales of a haunted Moab building? If you’ve experienced the paranormal in the Moab area, you are invited to share your tale. The Grand County Public Library and KZMU Community Radio are teaming up to produce the First Annual Fright Night: Spooky Moab Story Hour that will air on Saturday, Oct. 17 at 4 p.m. on the dial at 90.1 and 106.7 FM, and online at kzmu.org.

“It’s a universal fascination that we have with the supernatural and unexplained phenomenon,” said Jessie Magleby, the library’s head of adult services. “And I know Moab has a rich history of stories.”

While ghost stories of any kind can be thrilling, having local ones adds to the appeal.

“It makes [the stories] all the more spine-tingling if you walk by that place,” she said.

Magleby said that story contributors may choose to remain anonymous, and she is able to pre-record stories or can write them down and read them herself on air.

Though she has a few stories collected already – including a “really scary” one set in Moonflower Canyon – Magleby is hoping to get more stories lined up ahead of air time. To participate in the Spooky Story Hour, contact Magleby by calling the library at 435-259-111 or email her at Jessie@moablibrary.org.

Pumpkin Walk

Homewood Suites by Hilton Moab invites the public to purchase pumpkins to decorate and display along Main Street during the last week of October as part of its first annual Pumpkin Walk. Proceeds raised from pumpkin purchases will benefit St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, according to Area Sales Manager Katie McKay. A leading children’s hospital located in Memphis, Tennessee, St. Jude treats childhood cancers and pediatric diseases.

The pumpkins available for sale are located in the lobby area of Homewood Suites (132 N. Main St.) which is open all days and hours. The pumpkins may be paid for by cash, check and Venmo. Their price is based on size: large pumpkins are $7; medium-sized ones are $6 and small ones are $5. Local businesses get a special deal and can purchase pumpkins for $4 each.

“We hope to have other businesses along Main Street join us so it becomes an annual walk for locals and travelers to enjoy during Halloween,” McKay said, adding that pumpkins may be decorated “however people please.”

McKay said that while locals are welcome to display their decorated pumpkins during the Pumpkin Walk, it isn’t strictly necessary – hotel staff and guests have already made sure there will be many pumpkins to show off during the Pumpkin Walk.

The pumpkins come from Mabey Farms located in South Jordan. McKay said they have hundreds for sale and can get more.

For more information, McKay is reachable by email at kmckay@vistahost.net.