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Families are being challenged to think outside the box this year with Halloween and recreate the holiday to be fun and safe.
Since the CDC advises adapted celebrations this year—as most past Halloween celebrations are considered high risk—families have taken it upon themselves to make Halloween a safe holiday without compromising on the fun.
From candy chutes to hazmat suits, nothing is off the table this year.
Annie Linebarger's kids are too young to trick or treat but that hasn't stopped her family from participating in Halloween this year. Linebarger said her neighborhood, Old Enfield in West Austin, is a popular one for trick-or-treaters and her family usually expects hundreds of children.
"I would love to just pass out candy and wear masks and gloves, but I think that you just get too close to too many people," Linebarger said. "I actually don't think very many people will come (this year)."
Linebarger said her husband originally bought a hazmat suit to pass out candy, however, instead she and her husband plan to set up a decorated table on their porch with pre-packaged bags of candy so contact is kept to a minimum.
"I think that this is a good way I can provide something, and whether or not people will come, there'll be candy there," Linebarger said. "It is what it is, so we will just make the best of it."
Many families are following in the Linebarger's footsteps, setting up tables with packaged goods. For even less contact, some families are gluing popsicle sticks to candy and sticking it in their front yard.
Better yet, some families have made their candy part of the decorations.
Laura Nattinger's family intends to wear masks, socially distance and only trick-or-treat at houses that are doing the same in their Brushy Creek neighborhood. In fact, her son even has a mask to match his King George costume from Hamilton.
Additionally, themed masks seem to be a popular choice this year.
Nattinger's family is taking trick-or-treating to the next level with a candy chute placed in one of their upstairs windows. While they are still working out the kinks and plan to decorate the chute, Nattinger said her kids are excited about the new take on Halloween.
"The kids are jazzed about it being something new and different this year," Nattinger said. "All the creativity is fun."
The Nattinger family doing a test run of their candy chute, which they plan to decorate with lights.(Laura Nattinger)
Even if your family decides not to pass out candy, there are still plenty of ways to celebrate from home. Activities like carving pumpkins, watching Halloween movies, decorating the house and scavenger hunts are considered low-risk activities by the CDC.
Linebarger said she doesn't think this Halloween needs to be a disappointment for children and with a little bit of positivity, they might enjoy it just the same.
"I'm disappointed in a lot of things: not being able to go on vacation and travel and spend time with my friends and family, and this is just one of those things," Linebarger said. "The best thing about kids is with their mental capacity, I mean they're happy any way that you can provide that sort of positive attitude and activities for them. I think kids kind of have it easy in some ways—it's the parents that are struggling."
More on reinventing holidays:
- 9 Austin business serving Halloween-inspired treats - austonia ›
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- Hope to enjoy Thanksgiving? Then skip Halloween in Austin ... ›
- Austin issues Halloween challenge to combat covid - austonia ›
After a long, long year without live music, Austin has waited patiently for a return that has finally come. Festivals are planning returns and even venues that adhered strictly to safety protocols during the pandemic are feeling safe enough to gather again in person.
Starting in just a few short days, you can finally enjoy what makes Austin, well, Austin again. Here are a few of the live shows to look forward to.
Stubb's Waller Creek, 801 Red River Street
For the first time since the pandemic shut the iconic venue down forcing canceled and rescheduled shows, Stubb's BBQ is reopening its amphitheater to the public for concerts starting with a series of five sold-out Black Pumas shows, each with different openers, from May 26-30. It may be too late to catch Black Pumas this time around but Stubb's already has a host of other shows scheduled up through December. You can catch Surfaces, a College Station-based jazz-pop-hip-hop and vocals heavy duo known best for their song "Sunday Best," on Stubb's Stage on June 25 while tickets go on sale this Friday.
Next at Stubb's is electronic duo Louis the Child on July 28 and 29 on their "Euphoria Tour," followed by Umphrey's McGee on Sept. 9.
Mohawk Austin, 912 Red River Street
Likewise, Mohawk Austin has remained closed for more than a year since the onset of COVID-19, even tweeting "Thanks bro but we ain't gonna do it till it's safe," in response to Gov. Greg Abbott lifting all safety restrictions back in March. Starting May 27, Mohawk is officially back with Heartless Bastards and opener The Tender Things.
From there, Mohawk has an exciting lineup—Jukebox the Ghost will play on Sept. 10, Bully and opener Lightning Bug on Sept. 17, Big Freedia and Too Many Zooz on Oct. 4 and Beach Bunny on Dec. 14, with several talented artists in-between. Keep checking back though, Mohawk will continue to add shows and is currently planning on operating at 50%.
Frank Erwin Center, 1701 Red River Street
Though it is making a later comeback than Stubb's or Mohawk, the Frank Erwin Center will make a huge return on Aug. 14 featuring Tame Impala. If you missed their highly popular set at Austin City Limits Festival in 2019 or you want to relive it, this is the chance to do so. Plus, you get the added benefit of being able to see the stage, though you will still be watching with around 16,000 other spectators. Michael Bublé will have you swooning when he comes to perform on Sept. 20 and Chris Stapleton is taking his "All American Road Show" live on Nov. 4.
Nutty Brown Amphitheatre, 12225 US-290
Holding some socially distanced concerts earlier this year, the Nutty Brown Amphitheatre isn't stopping there with rap artist Ginger Billy playing two sets on May 7. Nutty Brown has a star-studded lineup ahead: Austin-based Bob Schneider on May 8 and other Austin favorite Shinyribs will grace the stage May 29. A little further down the line, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts will take over on Aug. 21 followed by Styx on Oct. 23.
Texas Performing Arts Center, 2350 Robert Dedman Drive
If you prefer a little bit more visual appeal to go with your music, the Texas Performing Arts Center is reopening in-person after consistent online events. First up is Cody Ko and Noel Miller, a multi-hyphenated YouTuber-podcaster-comedian duo, who will perform their "Tiny Meat Gang – Global Domination," on July 31. Of course you can't miss The Beach Boys, coming to the theater on Oct. 24, or a two-week long production of Hamilton from Dec. 7-19. For all the young ones that have missed going out in-person, "Disney Princess—The Concert" is coming to the Texas Performing Arts Center on Feb. 6, 2022, performing timeless gems like "Be Our Guest" from Beauty and the Beast and featuring all their other favorite princesses. Tickets go on sale this Friday.
Remember to jump on those tickets–Austinites have been missing their live music!
- 11 ways to get your Austin live music fix online - austonia ›
- Austin City Limits is holding in-person festival in 2021 - austonia ›
- Austin live music venue Mohawk announces May reopening - austonia ›
- Some Austin live music venues reopen to smaller crowds - austonia ›
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For Marco Silvestrini, gelato takes him back to his childhood when he and neighborhood kids in a small Italian town would end their day at the local gelato shop. It was part of what made some of the best memories for him.
He's since been offering that same experience for the past seven years with his artisanal gelato shop, Dolce Neve, in Austin, alongside his sister and her husband.
Leo Ferrarese, Marco and Franscesa Silvestrini run Dolce Neve. (Dolce Neve)
While gelato always played a big role in Silvestrini's life, it wasn't in his plans to take on a business with his favorite treat. After a few years in New York working as a management consultant, he felt he was missing out on something. "I decided to take a step back and started thinking, what could... I do to make society better and happier, even just for a moment," Silvestrini said.
He thought back to his childhood and the role gelato played in it and wanted to offer the same experience to Americans.
Once he had the product idea down, it came down to location. Growing up among farmers in a small community in Central Italy, Silvestrini knew he wanted a slower pace of living than New York, so he asked around. The answer he got: "Austin." The only thing he knew about what would become his future home was it had a Formula 1 track.
But after visiting once, he felt a great sense of community he didn't feel in The Empire State. "I felt it was not just a good place for a concept like mine, but also a good place to live because at the end of the day, you cannot just think about your business," he said.
"Dolce Neve" translates to "sweet snow." The shops offers 12-18 flavors at a time. (Dolce Neve)
Similarly, his sister Francesca Silvestrini was experiencing the same feelings while studying for her Ph.D. in Ohio before teaming up with Silvestrini. She went back to Italy to be properly trained in making gelato while Silvestrini focused on the business plan. They brought Leo Ferrarese, her husband, onboard and opened their first shop on South First Street in January 2014. The rest is history.
On the menu, you'll find various traditional and innovative flavors that rotate out. Some of the staples include chocolate, 100% vanilla from Madagascar and salted caramel. Other rotating or seasonal flavors include whiskey and pecan, organic cantaloupe sorbet, goat cheese and pecan, almond custard and tiramisu. They've created over 300 flavors together in the span of the business.
So what's next for the shop? Lately, Silvestrini has been thinking a lot about that. With two locations in Austin, one in Houston—he's just not sure if expanding more is the right move. Maintaining a quality product and good service is of utmost importance that he's not willing to sacrifice.
"In order to be happy, it's not about making money, it's about being an integral part of the community," Silvestrini said. "There have been so many cases in which I think what I did today really made a difference in somebody's life."