The creative team behind the Midsummer Scream events love Halloween and the spooky season as much as anyone who attends their conventions. So when things went from bad to worse with COVID-19, canceling the beloved Midsummer Scream Halloween Convention hurt them just as much as it hurt us. 2020 felt empty, we missed our spooky friends and family. Being able to congregate and bond over the common love of Halloween was lost and it really affected many of us. Yes, we are more than willing to sacrifice the season we love in order to keep people safe and healthy, but it’s not without its emotional toll.
When Awaken The Spirits was announced as a “pop up” event that would replace the typical Midsummer event, our spirits were…well…awakened! An event that would capture the feeling of the halloween season, but on a smaller level than what we’ve come to expect. With that came the COVID-19 safety guidelines which made masks mandatory while inside the venue. But after not having anything for over a year, we and the whole community were clamoring for ANYTHING and were happy to comply in order to get our Halloween season back! I am so happy to say that Awaken The Spirits delivered in spades.
On the morning of August 14th, the air around the Pasadena Convention Center was electric. There was a palpable excitement in the air from all the fans and White Bats (workers) alike. Everyone had their masks in hand while waiting outside the Convention Center and counting down the seconds before we had our taste of Halloween in August once again. Once our feet hit the convention floor, it was like no time had passed since the previous MSS event. All the familiar sights, sounds, and scents flooded out senses. It was a very overwhelming moment, which quickly turned into immense joy.
Let’s talk briefly about the COVID-19 safety precautions for the event. On the main doors of the Convention Center, MSS had placed cute logos to remind everyone that masks were mandatory for the entire event while indoors.
Throughout the convention there were signs about masks and even before panels the lovely voice of Doug Barns (host of The Season Pass Podcast) reminded everyone in attendance that masks are mandatory and help stop the spread. I honestly was really impressed with the measures taken to ensure our safety while at the event. Honestly, it was the best mask compliance I’ve seen at any event. Of course there were outliers, there always will be. But in our experience, almost 99% of people were wearing their masks properly, if not double masked. As someone who takes painstaking measures to ensure my masks will not lift up and are properly placed over my face; the environment gave me faith that I would be safe. Of course because of the past 2 years there was a lot of anxiety about being in a space with so many people. But it calmed my nerves seeing people doing exactly what I thought should be done to stay safe.
The show floor was surprisingly large considering it was called a “pop up” event. The show floor was in two buildings. In Hall C, there were plenty of vendors and even Halloween Horror Nights with a small installation showing off the main monster from The Curse of Pandora’s Box!
But the main portion of the vendors were in the Main Hall of the Convention Center. Here you’ll find Reign of Terror (From Thousand Oaks), Zombie Joe’s Underground Theater Group, Bob Gurr signing Haunted Mansion posters, The Decayed Brigade Sliders and so much more.
At these events, we always feel slightly overwhelmed trying to figure out what we want to buy and when. But I guess thats a great problem to have! The team at MSS always gather a wide variety of vendors that almost guarantee you’ll find something you like. Even if that’s kid friendly Halloween books and stuffed animals, or more adult costumes for your next home haunt.
The panels for the event were nicely varied in terms of topics, so it’s easy for everyone to find something they like. Either that’s listening to the major players in the SoCal Haunt world, listening to home haunters talk about how they execute their haunts, or hearing the cast of Resident Evil talk about their experiences creating an iconic game.
For me, it was all about the major haunts in SoCal and hearing the breaking news regarding this years events. Which is also something really fun! Being in a room of equally dorky people, getting excited about a new scare zone at HHN or a new maze at Scary Farm. Additionally, the Main Stage is always stunning in terms of how it’s designed and lit. And even for a smaller event, they spared no expense to help create an impressive, elevated look. The high production value throughout the event really makes you feel like you get your money’s worth when attending.
Funny enough, if you were to ask me what my favorite part of the convention was; it wouldn’t be the panels, the vendors, the photo ops or anything of the such. My favorite part of the weekend was seeing my spooky family once again. The familiar faces that bring a smile to my face and far too many hugs to count are what made this event so damn special. Awaken the Spirits isn’t just a cheesy name eluding to ghost, ghouls, and goblins. It’s talking about us, the halloween community and bringing us back to life!
After almost two years of lying dormant; MSS and Awaken the Spirits lit the wick of the “Black Flame Candle” and instead of The Sanderson Sisters coming back, it was all of us! In every event produced by the MSS team, you can feel the love for the season and the community as a whole. Creating a safe and welcoming environment for all those who want to dork out about the best season of them all! For that, I cannot thank the MSS team more. We say it often, but more than likely the person covered in blood and dressed all in black will be the nicest person you’ll ever meet. In a world that constantly judges and ridicules; I’m so glad there are conventions like Awaken The Sprits that help cement a home for us who love all things that go bump in the night!
If you’re interested in more of the events from Midsummer Scream, make sure to check out their website MidsummerScream.org to sign up for the newsletter and purchase tickets for upcoming events.