Sabrina Xie / Sun Design Staff

October 28, 2020

Trick-or-Treating in 2020? How to Avoid the Scares of a COVID-19 Halloween

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Spooky season is officially upon us. It seems that out of nowhere the pumpkin spice lattes are being sipped, and fall foliage is blanketing campus. With Oct. 31 just around the corner, now is the time to start coordinating the perfect Tiger King inspired Joe exotic costume, or maybe keep things simple by repping your favorite team’s jersey. Tentatively, we purchase our costumes with one question in mind: Are Halloween festivities going to fall victim to the pandemic as we have seen with other holidays this year?

It’s an incredibly disappointing time of year for students who have been long anticipating the Halloween hype. Unfortunately, we have to realize and respect that coronavirus doesn’t just disappear for the night. Costume parties, which generally go hand-in-hand with large social gatherings, aren’t feasible under the current circumstances. It’s crucial for us, as a student body, to continue to adhere to the Behavior Compact, which we have already done so excellently this year. It would be a shame to make it this far into the semester just for one weekend to set back all of our well earned success. This doesn’t mean that all fun has to be thrown out of the window for Halloween. There’s plenty of other October activities to get a good scare in, while staying low risk. Consider grabbing some pumpkins with friends for a carving contest and then having a scary movie marathon. The most important thing we can all take part in, is using common sense and understanding the consequences of our actions on those around us.

Speaking of those around us, and a rare moment of good news, trick-or-treating can still happen in the surrounding Ithaca community this year. While the CDC discourages the tradition as risky, precautions can be taken to ensure the safety for all those participating. I caught up with local resident and Coordinator of Public Programs here at Cornell, Julie Mclean, to see how she’s maintaining the Halloween cheer during this pandemic. Her, and several other families, have decided to keep trick-or-treating limited to only close neighbors and families they have been interacting with. These tight-knit “pods” still allow their kids to experience the traditional fun of the night, without the concern of increased exposure. She also mentioned that the town of Freeville’s Fire Department is hosting a creative Halloween event for kids to come out and satisfy their candy craving, while most importantly, staying safe. The station even plans to set up “candy chutes” from the trucks, which will lessen the contact for this modified trick-or-treat event.

As usual, everyone needs to make sure to wear a mask at all times and maintain proper social distance. For a general piece of Halloween advice, be aware that masks given in costumes often do not suffice on their own, so be certain a two layer mask is used. Fortunately, there are plenty of Halloween themed masks out there, so why not get creative with putting together a safe and protective costume? In regards to handing out candy, the CDC strictly recommends only giving out individually packaged treats, so stay away from anything homemade. The safest strategy to limit contact is to leave goodie bags at the edge of a porch or driveway for trick-or-treaters to take while passing. It’s ill advised to leave the classic bowl of candy out in front of the door, as that creates crowding and further contact. With these changes, and being consistent with the safety regulations we have been following all year, we won’t have to sacrifice this wonderful holiday. If we all work together to put safety as a priority this coming weekend, we can be more certain of a festive and fulfilling holiday season and conclusion to this unpredictable year!

Nick Hoge is a freshman in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He can be reached at njh78@cornell.edu.