Sep 11, 2023 - Economy & Business

Why Alaska celebrates Halloween in September

Some homeowners went all out for Alaska's annual Trick or Treat in the Heat event. Photos: Courtesy of Nicole Sheldon

Halloween came early for thousands of families in Alaska, complete with candy and 12-foot skeletons.

Why it matters: Kids usually frozen out by frigid temperatures were able to get away with not wearing snowsuits on top of their costumes.

Zoom in: Sunday was Trick or Treat in the Heat, an early Halloween event held in September before the weather dips below freezing and snow blankets the ground.

  • The event, officially known as the Ian Robbins Memorial Trick or Treat in the Heat, brought more than 6,300 trick-or-treaters spread across 11 participating neighborhoods, Sean Robbins told Axios.
  • It's also an annual block party for many neighborhoods in Anchorage, the state's most populated city, along with Wasilla and Palmer.

Some homeowners go all out for the event, like fifth-generation Alaskan Nicole Sheldon, who this year had seven 12-foot decorations in front of her house with smaller skeletons too.

  • Besides having lots of candy, Sheldon served hot dogs and had a firepit where kids made s'mores.
  • Not counting the decorations cost, she estimated spending around $2,500 on the event and told Axios over 1,000 people stopped by Sunday.
A kid wearing a skeleton costume trick-or-treats
The early Halloween event also serves as neighborhood block parties. Photo: Courtesy Nicole Sheldon

Zoom out: Despite the name, it wasn't hot in Alaska Sunday, with a low of 42 degrees and a high of 52, per

  • "It's a whole lot more fun than doing it in October," Sean Robbins said, "because typically October weather it's just starting to snow — it's cold and miserable."

Flashback: Trick or Treat in the Heat began in 2005 to give 5-year-old Ian, who was terminally ill, a chance to experience his last Halloween in his Anchorage neighborhood.

  • It's now a fundraiser that has moved the spooky holiday earlier and raised nearly $600,000 for charity, Ian's parents Sean Robbins and Joyce Durcanin-Robbins told Axios.
  • "There's some alchemy about this event that just draws people in, that just resonates with folks," Durcanin-Robbins said, noting that for some it's a love of Halloween, but that most people know someone who has used one of the charities.

Yes, but: Even if it's cold and miserable on Halloween, many Alaskans will still trick-or-treat, Sheldon said, adding she'll have coffee brewing for parents.

More from Axios:

Go deeper