Cities tackle Halloween amid COVID-19
Halloween has been cancelled — well, sort of at least.
As the traditional day draws near, local officials are setting across various cities in Madison Couty are setting their own standards for the seasonal tradition.
The city of Ridgeland released guidelines on Oct. 1. City spokeswoman Mary Beth McCullough said that the city has canceled their annual Trunk-or-Treat event in which local children dress up and trick or treat from car to car at one of the city’s parks.
Games, face painting and other attractions are usually on offer as well. McCullough said the event was canceled due to concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite the cancellation city officials released recommendations for low and medium-risk activities individuals, families or small groups can put together based on Centers for Disease Control recommendations. The guidelines aim to offer a “safe and memorable” experiences while mediating risks associated with large public events.
Low-risk recommendations include decorating houses, apartments and living spaces including carving pumpkins for display. They also say a Halloween themed scavenger hunt would be a fun activity that would minimize exposure. Virtual events like costume contests or Halloween movie nights are deemed low risk as well.
Activities deemed to involve a “moderately safe risk” include outdoor costume parades, outdoor haunted forests, pumpkin patches and outdoor Halloween movie nights as long as all events involve social distancing. Guidelines also suggest trick or treat grab and go goodie bags set out a safe distance from the house such as in the yard or driveway.
High-risk activities to avoid based on the guidelines include traditional trick or treating or trunk or treating, crowded indoor costume parties, crowded haunted houses and hayrides with people not form your household.
“The city of Ridgeland wishes everyone a safe and happy Halloween,” McCullough said.
Madison officials so far are leaving major decisions to neighborhood associations, though the annual Scarecrow Festival earlier this month has been canceled.
Madison Police Captain Kevin Newman said that they ask trick-or-treaters to limit their activities to early twilight to no later than 10 p.m. Trick-or-treaters should wear reflective clothing and be aware of traffic. Younger children should be accompanied by a parent or other responsible adult. Motorists are urged to exercise caution throughout the evening as younger pedestrians may be traversing the neighborhoods.
“Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Madison would like all Halloween participants to follow the most recent recommendations and guidelines established in the Governor’s most recent Executive Order,” Newman said.
Halloween is October 31, a Saturday this year. Other municipalities have not yet made pronouncements for the evening.
Canton Police Chief Otha Brown said that, at the moment, city officials were concerned with the Canton Flea Market going on last weekend. He said that a trunk-or-treat event is usually hosted by the city at the multi-purpose complex on Halloween evening but no final decisions have been made on that front as of last week.
“We usually host a trunk-or-treat event at the multipurpose complex but have not yet discussed that. I expect the board to discuss it and make a decision at the next meeting,” Brown said.
The next city of Canton Board of Alderman meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, October 20.
Flora City Clerk April Dunlap said that Flora officials have made no official decisions yet either.
“Neither the local Flora government nor police department has made any statements or recommendations for Halloween this year, as of yet,” Dunlap said.
Dunlap said that they would make an announcement if anything changes. Releases on the city’s website suggest that an announcement is usually not made until the week of the event.
Newman said that the CDC has ordered its own guidelines and precautions that can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html#halloween.