By Betty Yu

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — City officials discouraged the thousands of revelers who annually flood into San Francisco’s Castro District to celebrate Halloween to tone it down this year amid the still surging COVID-19 pandemic.

Still some local businesses found alternative safe ways to inject a little fun in the holiday.

The social club — The Academy on Market Street — hosted a hair-raising haunted house like no other. It offered a socially-distanced tour with reserved time slots for groups of four. Masks were required at all times. It featured creepy surprises at every turn, but characters won’t be jumping out or touching any guests.

“One of the things is this year so many things have been canceled and I think the response of the community has to be like how can we reimagine this, not necessarily not do things,” said The Academy Co-Founder Paul Miller.

The event runs through Sunday and all ticket donations go to the San Francisco Aids Foundation.

On Saturday night, Canela Bistro and Wine Bar rolled out a four-course Halloween-themed menu, complete with squid ink paella, mummified beef wellingtons and candy-topped bread pudding.

“Castro Street — I remember 15 years ago with my buddies just hanging out there just observing the scene,” said Jason Burmis of Campbell. “So tonight, it’s just going to be the two of us just kind of just observing from a safe distance.”

That’s exactly what community leaders wanted people to do to avoid a surge in virus cases.

Burmis received an alert from the city, reminding people to stay home for Halloween, and if you go out, to wear a mask, meet outdoors and socially distance.

“So that’s what we’re seeing is people wanted to come out, they wanted to enjoy Halloween from the safety of a table, where they can look out and see a few costumes,” said Canela Owner & Executive Chef Mat Schuster.

On Castro Street, KPIX 5 spotted the Addams family, clowns, and a maid. It was more mellow compared to years past, but still spirited. Some businesses handed out candy to children in costume.

“Me and my friends did not come here to party, we just wanted to hang out with each other and just go around and just be in our costumes,” said Aidan Bason-Mitchell of Larkspur.

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