Coronavirus doesn’t have to cancel Halloween. People are brainstorming safe trick-or-treat …

Is Halloween canceled?

That’s what people throughout Wisconsin, and throughout the country, are starting to wonder as the pandemic doesn’t show any signs of going away.

On the one hand, of course not. We had Easter and the Fourth of July during the coronavirus pandemic; they didn’t just disappear from the calendar.

On the other hand, we’ll have to celebrate Halloween differently than usual. Parties, festivals and apple bobbing are not safe. But yard decorations are surely fine. So are drive-in scary movies. And definitely costumes — especially if there are masks involved.

Is candy canceled?

No. A trip to your local Walgreens, Target or grocery store makes that obvious. The candy displays are everywhere, and even if trick-or-treaters aren’t coming to your door this year, you can still eat the candy.

In fact, according to a recent Fortune article, “Self-consumption has always been a massive part of the holiday and may end up salvaging sales for candymakers this year. Halloween isn’t a single day for the industry, but rather a 10-week treat-buying feast.”

Are Halloween parties and festivals canceled?

Likely. Many popular local Halloween-season celebrations have already been canceled this year due to pandemic concerns, including State Fair’s Harvest Fair and Bay View’s Pumpkin Pavilion.

Also, recommendations from the CDC and health officials continue to warn people against gathering in large groups where social distancing isn’t possible. Officials have doubled down on those recommendations in advance of holidays like the Fourth of July and Labor Day, sometimes even suggesting no socialization outside of family bubbles because of COVID-19 outbreaks tied to smaller family parties and get-togethers.

There have been some creative alternatives suggested. In lieu of Bay View’s Pumpkin Pavilion, people are being encouraged to go all-out on their pumpkin decorating this year so neighbors can go on evening walks to see the jack-o-lanterns. There could also be costume contests on Zoom or socially distanced costume parades by kids through their neighborhoods.

Is trick-or-treat canceled? Unclear.

The Los Angeles County health department stirred up controversy this week by issuing an order banning trick-or-treat as well as events like fall festivals. A day later, the department backtracked a bit, instead recommending that communities not host trick-or-treat this year.

In Wisconsin, Antigo has canceled trick-or-treat, replacing it with a scary movie drive-in event with socially distant costume contests at the Langlade county fairgrounds.

Several southeast Wisconsin communities have trick-or-treat times listed on their websites and Facebook pages, although officials are leaving open the possibility of canceling once they receive guidelines from health departments.

That guidance is not widely available yet; that’s why a bipartisan group of 30 members of Congress wrote a letter to the CDC director.

According to The Hill, the lawmakers wrote, “We are writing to ask you to update your Halloween safety guidance to include considerations related to COVID-19 so that Americans across the country know how to celebrate the Halloween season safely this year.”

While awaiting that guidance, local parents are getting prepared with alternatives.

Facebook user Zeno Franco posted a poll to the Bay View Town Hall Facebook group, asking his neighbors to vote for different trick-or-treat celebration options.

As of Sept. 10, the most popular option was for families to forgo trick-or-treat, but go crazy with decorations and giving their own kids candy. Emphasizing the controversy involved, the second most popular option was to just go ahead with trick-or-treat as usual with no special precautions.

Other innovative suggestions include:

  • Kids sitting in their own yards while adults walk by throwing candy to them
  • Trick-or-treating with a contraption made of 10-foot PVC tubes, which would allow candy to be slid to the kids in a socially distant manner
  • Canceling Halloween this year in favor of two Halloweens in 2021
  • Using drones to drop candy to kids in their yards

Contact Amy Schwabe at (262) 875-9488 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @WisFamilyJS, Instagram at @wisfamilyjs or Facebook at WisconsinFamily.

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