Celebrating Halloween During a Pandemic
By Amber Hubenschmidt
Fall has finally come, and for many, it means that their favorite holiday is right around the corner. Halloween is not only a family favorite but is celebrated by people of all ages. From trick-or-treating to pumpkin patches and even Halloween parties, there are just many things people enjoy doing this time of year. With the Coronavirus pandemic currently still at large in America, some people are celebrating in a new way this year, while some plan to celebrate the “old-fashioned” way.
Celebrating Halloween without trick-or-treating may seem terrible, especially for the children. Vanessa De Oca, a mother of one child, feels the risk isn’t worth it, “I’m not letting my baby get sick and possibly die because of someone else being irresponsible; it’s just not worth it. Even if we social distance and wear masks and sanitize, you never know who didn’t, and I just don’t want my child touching candy from strangers who could get him sick.”
Some families have found unique ways around the traditional trick-or-treating so their little ones don’t have to fully miss out. Father of two, Jeffrey Townsend, said he decided to hide candy around his house instead of taking his kids out this year, “As long as they still get candy, I don’t think my kids are going to care about going out. We’re planning on hiding candy around the house for them to find, and they can still wear their costumes and stuff.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists hiding candy around the house as one of their suggested alternate Halloween activities on their step-to-step guide for having a COVID-19 friendly Halloween.
Despite what society feels like what is right or wrong to do, medical professionals have been speaking up in efforts to help everyone have a safe Halloween. Savanah Benfield, a Registered Nurse who has been working throughout the pandemic, recommends that people stay home this year, “After seeing people of all ages in the ER suffering and especially dying from the Coronavirus, I definitely do not think it is smart or safe to go out this year for Halloween. I suggest doing something at home with your family; it will be worth it in the long run.”
Another suggestion from the CDC for celebrating Halloween is to go to an outside pumpkin patch and carve pumpkins at home. This is to help people avoid enclosed and crowded areas, like supermarkets and stores, so they can stay socially distant and lower the risk of spreading COVID-19. Schmitt Family Farm co-owner, Jean Schmitt, says they wanted to provide a safe space for their customers, “People, in general, have shown a greater interest in their homes and also feel safer buying from a farm than a big box store. Our fall sales have done well for the same reason. People want and need a safe place to buy things to make them happy. That’s what we worked very hard to provide.”
Not everyone is deciding to stay in this year for Halloween. College Senior Autumn Buckler says people at her college, Radford University, are planning to still have Halloween parties this year, “College students at my university are still planning Halloween themed parties as they would any other year. They seem to be unconcerned with potential consequences (we have a gathering limit of 10, but many have continued to ignore those rules). Half of the students plan to stay indoors with roommates, but the other half is carrying on as no harm may come of it.”
Aside from parties, some people are planning to participate in trick-or-treating on Halloween night. 51-year-old JoAnn Rhodes says she still plans to hand out candy this year, “My neighborhood is not only trick-or-treating but having a gathering in our cul-de-sac. You can’t hide forever. All candies have been put in a bag with gloves and will be handed out with gloves while wearing a mask.”
Although the CDC suggests finding alternatives, they also recommend taking these steps for anyone deciding to trick or treat the traditional way:
-Set up a station with individually bagged treats for kids to take.
-Avoid direct contact with trick-or-treaters.
-Wear a mask.
-Give out treats outdoors, if possible.
-Wash hands before handling treats.
With other holidays coming up like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Hanukkah, the CDC has already given similar suggestions for how to safely celebrate them too. Unless there’s a mandate in the future, whether people will follow the precautions or not will be up to them.