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story.lead_photo.caption David Thompson is the co-chair for the River Haunt haunted house in Batesville. The house will be open to the public from 7-10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Halloween. The admission cost is $10 per person.

— At the beginning of the month, the merchants of downtown Batesville got together to discuss ideas for Halloween.

“It was clear there was no way we could socially distance the kids when they would come out,” said Mandi Curtwright, executive director of Main Street Batesville. “We could spread out the merchants on the sidewalk and have them socially distanced, but in the end, even on a slow year, we might have 3,000 people show up for our Fun & Safe Halloween trick-or-treat event.

“The past couple of years, the [Batesville] Police Department has estimated about 6,000.”

Curtwright said the merchants still want the kids to come downtown, but in a way that is safe and responsible. One of the new events for this year is the Main Street Batesville Scavenger Hunt, which will begin Oct. 26. Scavenger Hunt cards can be picked up at the Main Street office or downloaded.

“The businesses downtown will have things included in their window displays, and as kids find these items, they can check them off their cards,” Curtwright said. “Once their cards are completely filled out, they will get a prize, which could include haunted-house passes or movie tickets.”

She said First Community Bank is sponsoring free treat and activity bags, which will be available at most downtown businesses. She said kids can pick up these bags during the entire week of Halloween, with the hope that they will come in and get their treat bags while their parents or grandparents shop the stores.

On Saturday, Believers’ Community Church will distribute pumpkins and decorating supplies from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Citizens Bank Pocket Park, 315 E. Main St.

The Melba Theater, 115 W. Main St., will offer free showings of the movie “Beetlejuice” at 7 p.m. Oct. 30 and at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Oct. 31.

“Halloween is one of our biggest things downtown, and this year has already been pretty tough, and a lot of our businesses are struggling,” Curtwright said. “Normally, it costs $500 to $800 for a business to supply enough candy for all the kids who typically come by — it is a big expense, but Halloween is the one event that we absolutely love.”

On Oct. 31, First Baptist Church in Batesville will host a drive-thru Trick-or-Treat event from 5- 7 p.m., and Fellowship Bible Church will host one from 5-8 p.m. There will also be a Dia De Los Muertos Celebration from 3-8 p.m. in the Citizens Bank Pocket Park. Curtwright said a photo booth will be set up, and hot chocolate will be served.

Also in Batesville, the River Haunt haunted house, at 570 Stadium Drive, will be open to the public from 7-10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Halloween. The admission cost is $10 per person. Curtwright said that on opening night, about 130 guests attended, and last week, Oct. 10, there were about 280.

“That is going to be a really good thing for us,” she said. “Most of our fundraisers had to be canceled, so this is our first one since February. It is more controlled [than the trick-or-treating], and we are able to spread people out and make sure our safety precautions are followed.”

For more information on Main Street Batesville, visit www.mainstreetbatesville.org.

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