By Michelle Cassell
The scariest monster of Halloween 2020 is the one no one can see.
The risk of spreading the invisible COVID-19 virus with typical door-to-door “trick or treating” (not to mention indoor parties or even hayrides and tractor rides with people you don’t know), could pose a serious threat. With Halloween coming up Saturday night, parents — and local officials — are wrestling with the question: how to celebrate?
“COVID-19 looms over Halloween just like it has loomed over everything since March,” said Orange County Sheriff Charles Blackwood.
“We know how much people love Halloween and we believe that by being inventive you can still have a fun evening, explore virtual opportunities to display your costume,” said Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger. “If you go out, wear a mask and maintain social distancing.”
To discourage large gatherings, and following Centers for Disease Control guidelines, the Town of Chapel Hill will not close off Franklin Street for the holiday this year. In neighborhoods across the community, though, there are varying opinions, all expressed on social media.
“I will give out candy like normal,” said Gwinn Mashburn of Finely Forest. “I’m moving forward with life.”
But Jeff B of The Preserve said times are different.
“No one likes what’s happening but time to suck it up and do what is right to keep people alive,” he wrote. “If my grandparents could survive the Great Depression, then our kids can survive remote learning and skipping trick or treat this year.”
A Carrboro mother of three children under the age of seven was trying to thread the needle.
“We are planning to do a haunted house with the grandparents at their house in Fearrington,” she wrote. “The kids don’t care — they are looking forward to it. I am not comfortable with the ability to control social distancing with outdoor parades. It’s just not worth the risk.”
Several communities in and around Carrboro and Chapel Hill are, in fact, planning parades with “social distancing” and asking residents to put treats in sealed baggies to be lined up to “grab and go” at the end of a driveway or edge of yard. Homes that are participating are asked to turn on front door lights.
Southern Village, however, is planning several public events for Oct. 31.
The Lumina Theatre is showing “Ghostbusters” at 8 p.m. on the Village Green. Seating will be in 9-by-8-foot pods with 12-foot aisles. Christ United Methodist Church is hosting a reverse trunk-or-treat, with games, a costume contest and candy distributed to kids sitting in their cars at the church parking lot.