Hands Across The Water is planning its first Halloween Road Rally for Saturday, Oct. 24. The rally, say organizers, will be a family friendly, socially distanced “amazing race” with games along the way. The rally, which costs $50 for a team of up to six people, will start at the Marsh Meadows Pavilion, located at 300, E. Textile Road in Saline and travel through locations throughout Washtenaw County. Preregistration is required.
“When COVID-19 canceled our planned fundraiser, we wanted to come up with an alternative that would allow folks to have a socially distanced activity that was fun for all ages,” said Jessie-Mae Secord, developmental associate & LGBTQ staff advocate for HATW. “We knew that Halloween was going to look a little different this year, and wanted to find a way to still get in the holiday spirit and provide people of all ages a fun event that took safety as the top priority. Our Executive Director Katie Page Sander is a huge fan of Halloween, as am I, so this seemed like the most obvious – and fun – choice. A friend of mine had just done a road rally and it was the ideal circumstance because you can set it up so that you only interact with your own team, and so this seemed like the best way to provide the community with a fun event that let them stay with their quarantine pods.”
HATW is an all-purpose adoption agency that supports and empowers children and families through inclusive, strength-based services. The agency has grown tremendously since its humble beginnings in 1999, and it has earned the Human Rights Campaign All Children All Families seal every year since 2012. HATW serves over 700 clients annually, primarily in Southeast Michigan. Over the past 20 years, HATW has supported and empowered thousands of children and families in our community, state, country and across the globe through inclusive, strengths-based services. Its programs are supported by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Service contracts, private pay and insurance reimbursements, grants from private foundations, individual donors, corporate sponsorship and donations. Proceeds from this Road Rally help the organization serve some of the most vulnerable families and youth.
To participate in the rally, you and your teammate must show up to the pavilion between 1 to 2 p.m. on Saturday. Most teams are expected to finish the rally in two-to-three hours. Participants can trick or treat at stops around Washtenaw County, complete a quick “minute-to-win-it” style activity at each stop and rack up bonus points to take home the honor of being the first-ever HATW Road Rally Champion.
To ensure that participants will only have close contact with their own team, start times will be staggered to ensure organizers can safely space all participants out. Stops will be socially distanced and individual stations will be set out where items will either be single-use or cleaned between teams. Attendees are encouraged to bring a mask for each team member, as they are required any time a person over the age of 2 is outside of their vehicle. Hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes will be provided.
Some additional rules: The rally driver must be over the age of 18, have valid insurance and follow all State of Michigan as well as local traffic laws. Teams may include up to six people although larger team sizes provide no advantage in any of the challenges. If possible, teams must be kept to one vehicle. Teams may be split between two vehicles only for social-distancing purposes. Family friendly Halloween costumes are highly encouraged and a costume contest will earn you bonus points.
“Planning a fundraiser is difficult enough but doing so during a pandemic has been a unique challenge,” Secord said. “We were short on time because we at first weren’t sure if we were going to be able to do anything. Then we were tasked with tackling our initial roadblock, securing sponsors, when so many businesses have been in difficult financial times. But we were able to garner the support of some generous sponsors, including Kapnick Insurance, Dynamic Edge, Altruic Advisors, Level One Bank, Assured Partners, Spotlight Home Team, Ann Arbor T-shirt Company and FAAC.
“Our most significant consideration during all of the planning was how to do so as safely as possible,” she continued. “We were lucky enough to have someone on our planning committee who works in Public Health, who helped us consider logistics of the event itself and activities at Road Rally stops. The items that teams come into contact with are all either single-use or disinfected between teams. We also had to figure out timing of the event and staggering team start times over an hour so that we were limiting the number of people present at any one time, have enough activity stations so that participants can still stay spread apart even when there are multiple teams at one stop, and have time to clean and reset each activity after a group has passed through.”