Safety First, This Halloween
Let’s be clear: Halloween on Main Street is not a town event; it is not hosted by any organization.
It is a celebration of the spooky evening in which, for years, Main Street residents have graciously entertained the ghosts and goblins that line the sidewalks of the center of town. Not only have these homeowners taken on the burden of cost (think how expensive it is to provide for 2-3,000 little guests ringing your doorbell), but they have gone out of their ways to decorate and get into the spirit of this night. It has become a tradition for generations of families from far and near. There is something about the throngs of creatively costumed participants, from the baby dragons in carriages to the gramma and grampa witches and warlocks holding little hands eager to dip into a bucket of candy that makes for some of the most exciting hours in our town.
But the grim ghoul of COVID-19 is peering over shoulders this October 31, grabbing fistfuls of delight from would be trick-or-treaters. This is truly a Halloween fright to respect.
And respecting that we remain in a pandemic crisis is all that local and state officials are asking trick-or-treaters to do this year. Tamping down the numbers of participants on Main Street is a smart move. No one is forbidding homeowners in any neighborhood, including Main Street, to hand out treats, nor is anyone forbidden from going door to door. But the fewer lights that brighten sidewalks in our town’s center this year, the more chance we can keep our COVID numbers as low as they have recently been. Long lines of antsy children unable to restrain themselves and socially distance, and kids opposed to a face mask in lieu of their usual scary guise will offer a challenge.
Like so many other events in our town and across the nation, this Halloween must be different from years before. The Newtown Community Center, the Parks & Recreation Department, and some neighborhoods are planning activities for local children. Small outdoor parties with trusted neighbors or school cohorts and making the rounds to fewer homes in neighborhoods not likely to be inundated with out-of-town, out-of-state trick-or-treaters is not much of a sacrifice if it means preventing a potential superspreader event. That would truly be a horror.
Our younger grades have only this month returned to full-time schooling. Throwing youngsters into a soup of friends and strangers whose health practices may not be as conscientious as those practiced by our district could compromise our town’s carefully planned return to a semblance of normalcy: all because of one day.
No one is canceling Halloween. No one is telling anyone what to do. Suggestions from the Department of Public Health, from Newtown’s health district, and from elected officials are pleas that we each determine the risk we are willing to take, and the risk we are willing to impose on others, when we decide how this Halloween will play out.
Have a fright-free Halloween!