Cover photo by James Poulson, Daily Sitka Sentinel | Downtown Trick-or-Treating in 2022
October in Sitka is not your ordinary autumn experience – it’s a captivating journey into a world where the spirit of Halloween comes to life in unique and spine-tingling ways. Forget about typical haunted houses; instead, picture yourself aboard a Haunted Ship hosted by Sitka’s U.S. Coast Guard. As you brace yourself for a thrilling two-night adventure, you’ll choose between mildly spooky and heart-pounding frights. Wander through eerie bunkers and descend steep stairways within the haunted depths of the USCG Cutter Kukui. But that’s just the beginning of your October escapades in this charming Alaskan town. From downtown trick-or-treating on Lincoln Street to exploring the hallowed grounds of historical cemeteries, we’ll guide you through the best activities going on in Sitka throughout October.
Alaska Day Festival
On October 18th, 1867, the historic transfer of Alaska from Russia to the United States occurred on Baranof Castle Hill in Sitka. Every year, the Alaska Day Festival commemorates this event with a series of festivities throughout October. Highlights include a reenactment of the transfer ceremony, the Brew Cruise & Brisket Contest, the swearing-in of the Keystone Cops, the Alaska Day Ball, and plenty of other exciting activities.
Explore Historical Cemeteries
- Sitka National Cemetery
Sitka National Cemetery, a beautifully maintained historical site, is the resting place of numerous individuals from Sitka’s World War II history, including many U.S. Navy personnel. This site gained recognition when it was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 7, 2012. Notable figures buried here include John Green Brady, who served as the governor of the Territory of Alaska from 1897 to 1906.
- Russian Orthodox Cemetery
Dating back to the 18th century, this sacred burial ground is a testament to the cultural heritage of St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Church. Moss-covered tombstones, weathered by the elements, tell the stories of early Russian settlers, priests, and Alaska Natives who played pivotal roles in shaping Sitka’s history.
- Sitka Lutheran Cemetery
This modest cemetery is the final resting place for a small collection of Lutheran history. A notable attraction here is the grave of Princess Maksoutoff, the first wife of Alaska’s last Russian American governor, Dimitrii Maksoutoff.
Community Pumpkin Patch
While there may not be space on the island for a traditional pumpkin patch, a local grocery store steps in to fill the gap. AC Lakeside hosts a community pumpkin patch in their parking lot each year. Local food vendors often join in on the fun, and all proceeds go towards the 3 to 5 Preschool.
The Stardust Ball, one of Sitka’s most popular community events, is an adult Halloween extravaganza featuring a costume contest, a lip sync competition, live music, and a well-stocked cash bar. This 21+ eventis hosted by the Ramshackle Cabaret. It’s incredibly popular and sells out every year. Don’t skimp on your costume – many Sitkans typically spend months planning their outfits, and the competition is fierce!
Haunted House? No- Haunted Ship!
While you won’t find many typical haunted houses in Sitka, there’s something even better: the annual Haunted Ship hosted by Sitka’s U.S. Coast Guard. This thrilling two-night event offers two levels of scares – a mildly spooky option for those seeking a tamer experience and an extra-terrifying one for the brave souls. Navigating through eerie bunkers and descending steep stairways inside the USCG Cutter Kukui is sure to send shivers down your spine. Best of all, it’s a free community event that often pairs with a trunk-or-treat in the adjacent parking lot and a delectable bake sale courtesy of the Sitka Coast Guard Wives Association.
When the day of Halloween arrives, the usually bustling business scene on Lincoln Street transforms into a pedestrian paradise. Local businesses enthusiastically open their doors, welcoming trick-or-treaters of all ages with beaming smiles and a generous supply of sweet treats. This event extends beyond the traditional candy hunt – it’s a chance to explore the heart of Sitka, connect with familiar faces, and embrace the tight-knit sense of community that defines our town.