‘Fun in a non-traditional way:’ Here’s how some cities are handling Halloween trick-or-treating
As COVID-19 cases begin spiking across the state once more, area municipal leaders must decide if they are going to dress as Doctor Strange and cancel door-to-door trick-or-treating or perhaps pull out the Yoda costume and suggest safe alternative ways
The answer was an easy one for Derby Mayor Richard Dziekan, who is battling the virus, saw a staff member contract it and learned students in two Derby schools are infected.
“I can tell you from my own experience that this virus is no joke,” said Dziekan, who tested positive Monday. “It is very contagious and the last thing I want to see is a widespread outbreak. We just need to ride it out.”
So he urged parents and children to avoid going house to house this Halloween.
The traditional method of trick-or-treating also doesn’t allow for social distancing, said Dr. Magna Dias, chairwoman of pediatrics at Bridgeport Hospital.
“Traditionally, people come to the home and you hand them the bowl of candy and that’s less than 6 feet (of distance between you),” she said. “So I just don’t think the traditional way is going to work this year.”
The state, too, has discouraged trick-or-treating where candy is handed out door-to-door or from car trunks.
Still, if families do participate, they should keep a facial mask that covers the mouth and nose on at all times. They should wear gloves, carry hand sanitizer, grab only pre-packaged treats and keep a 6-foot distance from others.
The state Department of Public Health and federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the better idea is for families to stick to household festivities like a family movie night or dressing up the front lawn with decorations.
In Bridgeport, Mayor Joe Ganim and Health Director Lisa Morrissey wracked their brains and came up with some safer alternatives.
“Kids can still get candy, dress up and celebrate Halloween, but we must do it while following the recommended safety protocols,” Ganim said.
The Bridgeport duo suggested hosting a family-only costume party or, since the pandemic has kept people locked in and many kids learning remotely, families could get out and take a drive around the city. Make it a game of it, they suggested, by spotting the scariest decorated houses.
There will also be a drive-thru event for Bridgeport residents on Oct. 30.
“We’re in this thing together, and Bridgeport’s first responders have stepped up yet again, and are hosting a Trick ‘n’ Treat Drive Thru at Beardsley Park — so kids and families will be able to celebrate and enjoy something festive safely,” Ganim said.
Ansonia Mayor David Cassetti is not banning Halloween trick-or-treating this year, but he is also hoping to offer alternatives to families.
“It is not advisable for children to go door to door, so we are hoping to provide other events for them to enjoy Halloween,” Cassetti said.
Like Bridgeport, Ansonia will offer a drive-thru option by turning Veteran’s Park into a scary cemetery called Nightmare Alley. On Oct. 29, the Valley Arts Council will have ghouls, zombies and frightening folk walking around.
“Everyone has to stay in their cars and they’ll get pre-packaged treats,” said Rich DiCarlo, the Valley Arts Council president.
And on Halloween itself, the city will continue its drive-in movie night at Warsaw Park on Pulaski Highway with a family-friendly seasonal offering at 7:30 p.m. Tickets will be available at ansoniadrivein.ticketleap.com.
“We are trying to be creative so that are kids can have just as much fun in a non-traditional way,” Cassetti said.
In Seymour, Deputy First Selectman Annmaire Drugonis said her town has canceled all of its regularly scheduled Halloween activities because of the pandemic.
However, they have not banned door-to-door trick-or-treating.
“If residents choose to give out candy or bring their children out trick-or-treating or to any other festivities, we recommend that they do so with an abundance of caution and in accordance with CDC and local health department guidance,” Drugonis said.
Rather than cancel all their town events like Seymour, Westport opted to revise theirs.
The Westport Downtown Merchants Association will be hosting a Family Pumpkin Fest on Oct. 25, replacing the annual Halloween parade and trick-or-treating at Town Hall as those didn’t meet current coronavirus gathering restrictions.
“This obviously is something we put together to replace the parade and other activities, and are further efforts to show that we can do a safe and welcoming activity and live within current guidelines,” said Randy Herbertson, president of the Westport Downtown Merchants Association.
Includes prior reporting by DJ Simmons, Peter Yankowski and Amanda Cuda.