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Yellowstone County cancels Halloween party planned at Metra
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Yellowstone County cancels Halloween party planned at Metra

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County officials have directed MetraPark to cancel Purgatory Halloween Party 2020 scheduled for Oct. 31 in the Expo Center, following concerns about the event's potential to spread COVID-19. 

"We have decided ... that the event is not in the best interest of the county," Yellowstone County Commissioners wrote in a press release Tuesday afternoon. 

Purgatory event organizers rented the Expo Center several months ago; the dance party/haunted house event was first held at MetraPark in 2015. Participants have to be 18 or older, and a section of the event is reserved for a 21-and-up crowd that features alcohol. 

"To be clear, the promoters have been working tirelessly to try to work with RiverStone Health to put into place a plan and guidelines to make the event as safe as possible," the press release said. 

However, the nature of the activity and the recent surge in new COVID-19 cases in the county led commissioners to conclude it will be "next to impossible to ensure compliance with these plans."

The Purgatory Halloween event has been held in some form in Montana since 2006. Crowds got big enough that in 2015 organizers moved the event to MetraPark and it's been held in Billings since. 

Event organizers posted to the Purgatory Halloween Party Facebook page on Monday night to hype the event and reassure ticket-holders that organizers were working with the county to ensure they had set up and will enforce the current COVID-19 guidelines. 

"We're ready to party. We as people are ready to live without restrictions, to enjoy each other's company as we once did and more importantly we are craving the need for live music and concerts again," the organizers posted.

"We went through all the proper steps to get this approved and we need everyone to understand we aren't throwing this event without following the COVID guidelines," they added.

An email sent to organizers Tuesday night for a reaction to the county's decision was not returned by press time. 

The county's decision to cancel the event came about Tuesday as multiple groups were working to find ways to make the event safe. Ultimately, commissioners said they didn't think it was feasible. 

"While we appreciate and understand the desire of our community to engage in activities like we typically would, right now is not the time," the commissioners said. "We look forward to a brighter future when we have done all we can to protect our neighbors."


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