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By Collin Breaux | Twitter: @collin_breaux

Costumes, candy, and eerie historical stories will return to the Los Rios Historic District come Halloween weekend.

The community is gearing up for more fun activities at the end of October—including a second annual trick-or-treating event on Sunday, Oct. 31, along the street and neighborhood, in which businesses and residents will hand out candy to families and others strolling past.

The first-ever, trick-or-treating event was held last year and is partially the brainchild of neighborhood resident and San Juan Capistrano Historical Society member Harrison Taylor, who felt it was time the historical and popular area became a hub for Halloween activity.

“(The trick-or-treating event) starts at 5:30 (p.m.) Basically it’s two hours, 5:30 to 7:30,” Taylor said. “Last year was such an amazing event. We had, we think, between 1,500 and 2,000 people. In the past, we’ve never had any trick-or-treaters on Los Rios. I grew up down here, so we would go elsewhere.”

Los Rios Historic District residents and married couple Harrison and Anna Taylor pose at the San Juan Capistrano Historical Society with their children, Jack Taylor (5), Olivia Taylor (3), and Isabelle Taylor (1). Trick-or-treating and the Ghost & Legends Tour are returning for Halloween in the area this year. Photo: Collin Breaux

The tradition can hopefully continue as time goes on, Taylor said. Some business owners and residents ran out of candy last year—so Taylor and others are preparing this year by buying enough candy.

“I think it’s going to be even bigger,” Taylor said. “I’m excited to see how much it will grow this year.”

Along with the new trick-or-treating event, an old favorite is returning: the Ghost & Legends Tour from the Historical Society. This year marks Taylor’s fourth year as the director/producer for the tours, which he estimates have been going on for about 40 years.

The tours generally involve actors in costume recounting bits of San Juan Capistrano history with macabre flourishes for in-person groups, along different stops in the Los Rios area. The tours last year were forced to shift to a self-guided format in which people could scan QR codes to play story videos on their phones due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the event will return to the traditional face-to-face group gatherings for 2021.

“This year, it’s changing in a way. We’re really focusing on immersive theater,” Taylor said. “The actors are going to be more interactive with the audience. We want people to feel almost like that show Westworld, where people traveled into this Western world and they felt like they were living in a different time.”

People are eager to get back out, including actors, after being cooped up during the pandemic, Taylor said.

The Ghost & Legends Tour will take place on Oct. 29 and Oct. 30, before Halloween. General admission is $15. VIP admission is $75 and includes a dinner at the Historical Society and other amenities, though seating is limited. Visit sjcghosttour.com for tickets and more information.

Collin Breaux

Collin Breaux covers San Juan Capistrano and other South Orange County news as the City Editor for The Capistrano Dispatch. Before moving to California, he covered Hurricane Michael, politics and education in Panama City, Florida. He can be reached by email at cbreaux@picketfencemedia.com

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