Residents bundled up against the cold and adhered to Covid-19 precautions while enjoying a movie night out. Photo by Heidi Randhava

The Sanderson Sisters have been putting a spell on audiences since 1993, when the villainous yet lovable characters first appeared in the cult classic “Hocus Pocus.” More than 150 people came out to Leahy Park on Oct. 24 to see the trio of witches brew up trouble in the family-friendly comedy horror film, presented by Evanston Parks, Recreation & Community Services Department.

Evanston resident Paulina LaVoie said she did not mind bundling up for the 6:30 p.m. outdoor showing of the movie on a night when the temperature dipped to 42 degrees.

“It’s something to do at this time of year. And it’s lots of fun,” said Ms. LaVoie.

The movie was an opportunity for residents to safely enjoy a sense of community and get in the Halloween spirit while adhering to public health guidelines that have been proven to help control the spread of the novel coronavirus. Attendees were required to maintain a six-foot distance from those outside of their household and to wear a face covering.

Raquel Reyes and Brigitte Arceo said they decided to come after Ms. Reyes received an email about the movie.

“I thought it would be a nice experience. We’ve been stuck in quarantine, so it’s good to actually come out and do something like this,” said Ms. Reyes.

Director of Parks, Recreation & Community Services Director Lawrence Hemingway said the final movie of the season, “Moana,” is scheduled to be shown on Nov. 7 at Twiggs Park, weather permitting. All movies are free.

“The department decided to extend our Starlight Movies series to provide additional outdoor opportunities for families to enjoy while being able to recreate safely. The outdoor movies allow for participants to socially distance themselves from individuals outside of their households, keeping with the current health and safety protocols in place for our community,” Mr. Hemingway told the RoundTable.

As cases of COVID-19 continue to spike throughout the nation, experts are calling on all people to make small sacrifices that include wearing masks, maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from others and avoiding indoor gatherings to help contain the spread of the virus.

At a news conference on Oct. 23, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike acknowledged that “pandemic fatigue is striking everyone, it’s real.”

She became emotional when she said that an additional 31 Illinoisans had lost their lives to COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours.

Illinois officials reported 9,522 deaths from the virus on Oct. 26.

“I’m asking you to fight the fatigue. Fight the urge to give up on social distancing. Fight for your kids to have safe … in-person learning in school with teachers who are trained to teach them in the classroom. Fight to have safe, healthy environments at which we can work so that businesses can remain open,” said Dr. Ezike.

Mask-wearing and physical distancing are effective means of reducing transmission of the novel coronavirus. Clouded thinking to the contrary is “just a bunch of hocus pocus.”

Heidi Randhava

Heidi Randhava is an award winning reporter who has a deep commitment to community engagement and service. She has written for the Evanston RoundTable since 2016.