Oberlin Blogs

Halloweekend: COVID edition

November 3, 2020

Ruth Bieber-Stanley ’21

Halloween at Oberlin is normally a festive affair; there are always plenty of planned events, musical and otherwise, students dress up, co-ops host costume parties, and everyone generally has a very fun time. Naturally, this year was a little different since many of the large gatherings that normally occur around Halloween couldn’t happen, but that didn’t stop Obies from planning fun, safe activities to celebrate the spooky holiday! 

On Halloween morning, the sun was shining. This was a welcome break from the dreary, cold, and damp weather we’d had for the entire previous week. My housemates and I started our weekend with the obligatory Blue Rooster visit. Blue Rooster is the bakery in town, and a popular spot for students and townspeople alike.

Dressed vaguely in pumpkin colors, one of my housemates donning bumblebee wings and antennae, we walked downtown in the crisp fall sunshine. Blue Rooster had gone all out this year with the themed treats, as they usually do! Think pumpkin cupcakes, pies with gravestones in them, cookies and SCREAM cake … you get the idea. We said hello to the people who work there and chatted through the glass partitions while picking up our goodies. I got my pumpkin-flavored treat, and we went along our way! 

That afternoon, Oberlin’s very own steel pan band, OSteel, put on a concert that was livestreamed from the stage of Finney Chapel. One of my housemates is in the band this year, so we made sure to tune in. It was weird to see the band playing in the giant empty chapel, but it was still so fun! All the musicians were wearing silly costumes and having a grand ol’ time. Obviously, I miss going to shows in person, but it was really heartwarming to see people’s parents and significant others cheering them on in the virtual livestream chat.

I’ve been going to OSteel shows since I was a first-year, so it’s really cool to know people in the band now and to support them, even if it’s from my living room. Despite the circumstances, music is still alive and well at Oberlin. Oberlin is known for its music scene, and I know I wasn’t the only person wondering what would happen this year. Luckily, music has still been so present this fall!

Early on this year there was an immersive contemporary music concert in Tappan Square, which was quite well attended. Jazz students in the conservatory play from the bandstand in Tappan on weekends, and it’s not unusual to stroll past the campus library and hear choir students rehearsing in the staircases below the entrance (sort of an open underground echo chamber situation).

The group of students who organize Folk Fest each year put on a virtual folk listening party on Zoom where people suggested their favorite songs and we all listened together. There was even a live intermission from two local Kendal (the elders’ community near Oberlin) residents who sang an acapella song inspired by the itsy-bitsy spider, and yes, my housemates and I may or may not have cried a little bit. We even went to a concert put on by a local group just a five-minute walk from our house, and we were some of the only students there. So, even right now, music is alive and thriving in Oberlin, college and town alike. 

But I digress!

Back to the Halloween narrative. After dressing up as Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle and making my housemate take several pictures of me, on the evening of Halloween, my housemates and I cooked a big pot of pasta, heated up some apple cider on the stove, lit some candles, and watched Over the Garden Wall, a beloved spooky cartoon. After we finished the cartoon, we decided to go on a moonlight walk at around 10 PM. It was the second full moon of October, which felt special, and it was a beautiful clear night. We saw some other students walking around too, visiting their friends’ porches in costumes and masks to celebrate the night together. Oberlin at night is beautiful, and it was certainly an occasion to remember. 

After getting an extra hour to sleep on Sunday, it seemed as if most of the Halloween fun had died down, but not so! There were still some events happening on Sunday, namely a virtual spooky poetry slam put on by Oberlin’s slam poetry team, OSlam. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go to the show because I had sorely neglected my homework the day before, but I’m sure it was as equally amazing as all their other shows are!

On Sunday it actually ended up SNOWING, the first snow of the season! The sun came out for a bit, though, and I went on a chilly (as in 25 degrees with wind chill) walk before the sun went down and called a dear friend who graduated from Oberlin last year. Seeing all the fall foliage with a wintry sky was a beautiful combination, and it made me so grateful to be back in Oberlin this season. 

That evening, since it was Día de los Muertos, we watched Coco, a Pixar film about a young Mexican boy with a dream of playing music who ventures into the world of the dead. Coming from New Mexico, I am really familiar with Día de los Muertos. My school used to celebrate the holiday every year, and a big parade with floats, low riders, and people in costumes and skull makeup would process through part of the city. One of my housemates is from Tucson, which has an even bigger parade to celebrate the holiday, and so it was really nice and nostalgic to honor Día de los Muertos in some way as well as Halloween, since the holiday was very present around me when I was growing up. 

And thus ended my Oberlin Halloweekend. Even though times are weird, there are still so many fun events happening on Oberlin’s campus. And even if there are fewer things happening, that means that there’s more room for spending quality time with my friends and housemates, watching movies and enjoying each other’s company, which is equally important.

I hope everyone had a safe Halloween and was able to celebrate if that’s important to you! 

Responses to this Entry

I graduated from Oberlin and went to Teachers College Columbia, and then back to Ob to work in the admissions and financial aid offices for three years to see if "I liked college administration--or more precisely, does an excellent college like Oberlin have issues I was interested in solving." Oberlin was a great place for me to think about this, with wonderful people/administrators as mentors. So I went to the UMich Center for the Study of Higher Education, with a specialty in Social Psych and Race Relations, for a PhD. I've helped create two new colleges--UMass Boston and Harrisburg Univ. (Pa.) of Science and Technology, and been a Vice President at Boston University. I'm still interviewing students for Obie's admissions office and read your pieces, which I really enjoyed. If I feel I don't know something, it is "what do Oberlin students do for fun?" I have a granddaughter who is now looking at colleges (as a Jr. from Santa Monica CA), and she's is dismayed at how many students at other colleges just say "you have to be here to experience it" which is not possible during this year. So I really enjoyed what you had to say about your experience. Thank you and best wishes this final year!! Bill

Posted by: Bill Fenstemacher '62 on January 8, 2021 2:39 PM

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