MORLEY – The big screen and jack-o-lanterns will light up for Stoney Nakoda youth and families on Oct. 22 thanks to the Îyârhe Nakoda Youth Program.
The Chiniki Rodeo Grounds will be the site for two free drive-in movies, a pumpkin lantern festival and a costume contest. Gates will open to the grounds at 4 p.m., with Halloweentown showing at 5 p.m. and A Nightmare on Elm Street playing at 8 p.m.
Îyârhe Nakoda Youth Program outreach worker Danielle Lefthand said the event is part of the program’s greater objective to improve mental health and wellness among community Stoney Nakoda members, especially during the pandemic.
“With the COVID-19 pandemic happening, we just wanted to host an event that would bring wellness to families and something they can enjoy from the safety of their vehicle,” she said. “It’s something for them to look forward to. It’s been rough for everyone around the world.”
The youth program works in concert with Stoney Health Services, the Family Resource Network and Alberta Health Services to provide mental wellness and wellbeing programming as a part of a suicide prevention initiative.
Lefthand said Stoney Nakoda members were given the opportunity to select which Halloween movies will be shown.
“During our Traditional Day Camp in the summer, we asked the youth what scary movies they would like to see and then we also posted on our Facebook page," she said. "We went live and narrowed it down the selections with a zombie race on a random lane picker website.”
Youth and staff from Nakoda Elementary, Morley Community School and Nakoda Head Start will carve around almost 80 pumpkins altogether for the pumpkin lantern display.
A member of the Family Resource Network will drop pumpkins off at the schools at the beginning of the week where students will carve them out, said Îyârhe Nakoda Youth Program outreach worker Earl Makinaw-Labelle. Then they will be picked up to bring to the rodeo grounds the day before the event.
“We’re going to make a little trail with them,” Labelle said. “So that kids can come and follow the pumpkin path through to the end where someone will be there to give them candy.”
Attendees can also participate in the costume contest where prizes will be given out to the best costume in each age group. Those who wish to register their costume can do so at the gate until 7 p.m.
The event is free and is open to Stoney Nakoda residents.