The Isla Vista Recreation and Park District is laying the groundwork for its upcoming 50th Anniversary Celebration, a three-day free and public event scheduled for Oct. 29-31 from 7 to 11 p.m., coinciding with Halloween.
The Isla Vista Recreation and Park District (IVRPD) oversees 58 acres of parkland within their jurisdiction, including 25 parks and open spaces. The district approved the budget for the event at its Sept. 1 special board meeting with a total event cost of $130,644.
The first-ever special meeting for IVRPD was called on Halloween 1972, with the district officially proposing its formation by Nov. 8 of that year.
“We do feel that because of that relationship with Halloween that it’s really important that we celebrate our 50th on Halloween proper,” said IVRPD General Manager Kimberly Kiefer at the Sept. 1 meeting.
IVRPD is collaborating with Lucidity Festival to produce the event, allocating them a creative budget of $65,744, and earmarking another $64,900 for additional expenses. The approved budget itemizes potential avenues for sponsorship revenue, which would reduce total costs by up to $43,900.
The theme for the event is “past, present and future,” with plans to include an archive of historical photos relating to Isla Vista and its local parks.
Among the slated activities are a photo booth with decorative props, a pumpkin patch, pumpkin carving, a Día de los Muertos altar walk, a Ferris Wheel and a carnival game station.
“We definitely emphasize that we want everything to be all ages acceptable but still engaging for young adults and adults, and so I think we have a nice mix of activities,” said Assistant General Manager Luis Valerio at the Sept. 1 meeting.
Last year, IVRPD held a Haunted Pumpkin Patch in Estero Park with a “spooky” storytelling experience told through costumed performers, lighting and projection art. The event, with a total gross cost of $62,414, attracted around 1,700 people over three days, who took home over 1,200 pumpkins provided for free.
Valerio said this year’s pumpkin patch is inspired by previous iterations and will include much of the same decoration from 2021, like corn bales and hay stacks.
“For those of you who went to the event last year, we had a pumpkin king in the patch, so we will be doing some kind of structure with a pumpkin king … or queen,” Valerio said.
Kiefer added that $9,000 will be spent on costumed performers to provide an entertaining and immersive experience for guests.
“We will have pockets of character actors, almost 10 of them, engaging with the community and with youth, and those are going to be really unique experiences,” Kiefer said.
In order to comply with county noise ordinances, IVRPD is only planning to use amplified sound in the Anisq’Oyo Amphitheater, where they can maintain a closed environment and perform crowd control. Inside the amphitheater will be music, Halloween-themed movies each night, costume contests and fashion shows.
“Wherever there is amplified sound, there is a capacity limit,” Valerio said.
IVRPD is planning to hold a silent disco for one night in an outdoor space, offering 250 headsets to participants, according to Valerio.
IVRPD is in discussions with Santa Barbara County to receive a special event road closure permit. The road closure would occur at a section of Embarcadero del Mar, beginning at Pardall Road and ending at Seville Road.
“A ferris wheel and some carnival games will be staged along Embarcadero del Mar on the road closure,” Valerio said. “At this time, we’re really hoping that we don’t have to do any additional fencing, that it can be open the whole time, so we’re going to have to work around the games and carnival rides, creating an environment where people can come and go.”
A Día de Los Muertos altar walk will also be set up in Cool Corner, located in Anisq‘Oyo’ Park near I.V. Drip, with an expected eight to 10 altars that local community groups can sign up to use. Valerio said that each altar group would receive a $100 stipend for materials along with the free table to set up.
“I’m really proud of what we’re going to be presenting, and, in the meantime, we’ll be having probably about three key meetings with different stakeholders,” Kiefer said of upcoming preparation for the celebration.
A version of this article appeared on p. 5 of the Sept. 29, 2022 print edition of the Daily Nexus.