Robert and Barb Esfeld have a plan to safely deliver Halloween candy to any trick-or-treaters who come to their door on Oct. 31.
“We love Halloween and seeing the kiddos,” Barb said. “We are going to make sure our house is lit up so trick-or-treaters know we want them. We decorated a tube that will hang down our stairs to shoot the candy down, so we can eliminate close contact with them.”
While door-to-door trick or treating is on the list of Halloween activities NOT RECOMMENDED by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Great Bend residents do appear to be ready to hand out candy.
The Great Bend Tribune asked members of its Facebook group “Great Bend Connect” about their plans for Halloween.
More than one said they’ll hand out candy this year.
“We will welcome trick or treaters with wrapped treats in a small snack bag,” one reader responded.
Some are making candy chutes, like the Esfelds, so kids don’t have to come up steps and onto their porches, and to reduce physical contact.
Others are finding alternatives to trick or treating.
One mom wrote, “We’re not trick or treating as we have compromised immune systems in our family, so we’re Halloween egg hunting in our yard. I have a ton of plastic Easter eggs left over, so I’m spray painting them with glow-in-the-dark paint and the kids will hunt for them after dark.”
Another reader decided to have a Halloween party that is just for the family. There will be balloons and treats and a Halloween movie.
“We’ve decided not to do trick or treating this year,” one mom responded. “We are going to get goodies for our kiddo and do a Halloween scavenger hunt at home though, which he is super excited about — and we’re still dressing up!” Another option would be an outdoor scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk from house to house admiring Halloween decorations at a distance.
“We are renting a couple of movies and ordering takeout and having snacks and just chilling at home this year,” a reader said.
Other activities have been modified this year, which is why the Kiwanis Club’s annual Halloween Parade has been transformed into a drive-through event from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. this Saturday, Oct. 24, at Brit Spaugh Park. Kids can wear their costumes and then have an adult drive to the park. From Great Bend High School at 19th and Morton St., head north on Morton to the Kiwanis banner at the park entrance and follow the directions.
A greeter will count the number of children in the vehicle and post that on the windshield to help volunteers at decorated booths know how much candy to give out. There are 22 booths to drive by and view, and kids will receive candy without ever exiting the car, said Kiwanis President Frankie Pelster. The vehicles will exit the park at 19th and Williams St., which is where vehicles usually enter to view the Wild Lights exhibit on the holiday Trail of Lights.
KDHE has outlined guidance and considerations for celebrating Halloween during the COVID-19 pandemic. As typical Halloween celebrations do not allow for minimizing contact with non-household members, it is important to plan early and identify safer alternatives.
The following activities are NOT RECOMMENDED by the KDHE:
• Gatherings, events, or parties with non-household members
• Carnivals, festivals, live entertainment and haunted house attractions
• Door to door trick or treating - It is very difficult to maintain proper social distancing on porches and at front doors, ensure everyone (trick or treaters and residents of homes being visited) are properly wearing face coverings, and because food sharing is risky.
• “Trunk or treating” – It is difficult to avoid crowding and sharing food at such events.
• Traveling to a rural fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19.
Instead, KDHE and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend safer alternatives. Other ideas:
• Online parties or contests (e.g., costume contests, pumpkin carving)
• Dressing up homes and yards with Halloween themed decorations
• Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household, or outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends
Personal Protection Measures
Regardless of how you celebrate, there are important recommendations for how to keep yourself and your household members safe:
• Correctly wear a cloth face covering to prevent disease spread when outside your home and around others who are not part of your household.
- Incorporate face coverings into costumes.
- Face coverings should not be worn by children younger than 2 years old, anyone who has trouble breathing, and anyone who is otherwise unable to remove their cloth face covering without assistance.
• Avoid confined spaces. Place at least 6 feet between yourself and other people who are not part of your household.
- Wait until a porch or doorway is empty before approaching a home.
- Keep a safe distance from cars - do not walk in the street.
• Practice routine hand hygiene – wash your hands often, for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Clean frequently touched items regularly.
• Consider carrying sanitizing wipes to disinfect candy or other items accepted from homes. Or, sanitize items individually when you get home before consumption. Remember to also examine treats for choking hazards or tampering before eating them.
• Accept only commercially packaged, non-perishable items.
Guidance for Homes Accepting Trick or Treaters
• When answering the door or coming into contact with trick or treaters, correctly wear a cloth face covering.
• Practice routine hand hygiene; regularly clean and sanitize frequently touched items such as door handles, door bells, and door knockers. Consider having sanitizing wipes by the door for quick access between trick or treaters.
• Distribute only commercially produced, non-perishable items to trick or treaters.
• Do not use “grab bowls,” where trick or treaters reach into a communal bowl to retrieve candy.
• Practice one-way trick or treating
- Consider spacing items 6-feet apart on your porch, in your yard or on a table in your driveway with a sign advising trick or treaters to “Take 1.” Watch from a safe distance and replenish items as needed.
- Alternatively, make individual goodie bags for trick or treaters to pick up as they walk by. If your home has a fence, consider hanging individual goodie bags on the fence for trick or treaters to take as they walk by.