Scheduling outdoor autumn activities like the Monster Hunt at Boyce Mayview Park can be tricky.

“We were prepared for a cold day, for a rainy day. We had a rain date set just in case,” Melissa Lindberg said. “And then we ended up getting weather that’s sunny and 80 degrees, which is the craziest thing ever for the end of October.”

Lindberg, marketing and membership services supervisor for Upper St. Clair’s Community and Recreation Center, joined volunteers and staff members in welcoming ideal conditions and in welcoming some 300 participants to the first event of its kind, held eight days prior to Halloween.

“We wanted to make sure that people had a way to still celebrate the season and do some of those fun, traditional trick-or-treat activities in a safer manner and maybe in a way that is better-suited for this year,” Lindberg said.

Along with holding the Monster Hunt outside as a precaution against the spread of COVID-19, organizers also had families register in advance for specific times, so as to help avoid people grouping together as they made their way along various paved trails at the park.

“We made sure that we chose a path that was very walkable and stroller-friendly and little kid-friendly,” Lindberg said, “and it spaced everybody out along the way so that they can enjoy themselves but not be near anybody.”

The premise for the Monster Hunt is described in a program that the friendly folks working the registration table handed out to visitors, a story that reflects the situation with which youngsters – the rest of us, too – have been familiar since March.

“For thousands of years, eight monster friends lived together happily inside the Mayview Mansion.

“However, this year was different because the monsters were staying at home to be safe, just like we did. They were spending too much time together and started to fight and argue.

“Finally, the Witch had enough! So she came up with a plan to help all of her friends remember how much they care about each other. Late one night, she took her cauldron and began mixing up all of her ingredients to make a special potion.

“At the stroke of midnight, she snapped her finger, and poof! The monsters flew out of their mansion and landed all throughout Boyce Mayview Park!

“The monsters are scared and all alone, scattered throughout the park. Follow along the path to help find them. Reunite them, and see if the witch’s plan worked!”

Amanda Sekanic, assistant community programs coordinator at the Community and Recreation Center, heard about a similar event in Nebraska, where families were scattered throughout the town on their hunt.

“We can do it better,” she said she thought.

The center’s staff members continue to organize activities that provide community members with something to do during the pandemic.

“We’ve been lucky to have the amazing park that we’re in to use as much as possible during the summer and the fall months,” Lindberg said. “As we transition into November, December and beyond, we will start to move inside more. Any activities that we have inside, we will certainly try to make sure that we again are keeping all the safety standards in mind.”

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Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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