With Halloween underway, one question has popped into many parents’ minds — Will there be trick-or-treating this year?
The pandemic is still in full swing, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still advises against gathering in large groups.
On the CDC website’s holiday celebration page, it categorizes lower risk, moderate risk and higher risk seasonal activities. It labels traditional trick-or-treating as a “higher risk,” and recommends avoiding it, according to a previous article from The Times.
Both Trick-or-Treat on the Trail, which takes place annually at the Midtown Greenway, and Trick-or-Treating on the Square have been canceled, but many families in Hall County are still carrying on the tradition in their own neighborhoods.
Rona Falls, who lives in Mundy Mill, said she has already picked out a costume for her 8-year-old daughter, Lizzy, and they plan to trick-or-treat. She said her neighborhood is also holding a contest for the best Halloween-decorated home.
After walking from door-to-door with her daughter, Falls said she intends to set up camp on her porch.
“I’ll have a basket of candy, and I won’t go near anyone,” she said. “They can grab the candy and move along. Our neighborhood has always been really busy during Halloween. I feel confident about it. It’s going to be spaced out.”
Diana Blankenship Osorio, a Flowery Branch resident, said five of her kids plan to go trick-or-treating in the traditional way while wearing face coverings. Instead of handing out candy, she said some of her neighbors will set the treats on the edge of their driveways for children to take.
“I live on Sterling on the Lake, and it’s really busy every year,” Blankenship Osorio said. “Knocking on doors and getting candy isn’t more of a risk than sending kids to school every day.”
Maggie Shay, activities director of Sterling on the Lake, said the community’s Homeowners Assocation sent out the CDC’s recommendations for celebrating Halloween to each resident. She said those who don’t want to accept trick-or-treaters have been encouraged to turn off their lights.
The Friday before Halloween, Shay said Sterling on the Lake will hold a distanced costume parade and hang out goodie bags from the clubhouse.
Amanda Browning, owner of Amanda’s Farm to Fork in Lula, said this year she intends to participate in Assembly of Praise’s Hallelujah Harvest.
The church, located at 6158 Carter St. in Lula, is changing up its trunk or treat even this year by making it a drive-thru activity.
Adam Reynolds, pastor of the church, said people will stay inside their vehicles and kids will hold their buckets or bags out the window for volunteers and other participants to fill with treats.
“I think the biggest thing with this year is you got to roll with the punches, reevaluate and try different things,”” Browning said. “It’s all about the kids. We need to do whatever we can to help them feel normal.”
Peggy Chatfield, who has lived in Flowery Branch for 20 years, said she fully embraces the spooky season with her husband in the Hunters Pointe neighborhood. Each year, she adorns her yard with elaborate Halloween decorations, including a large animatronic witch, who has been known to frighten trick-or-treaters.
“We go all out every Halloween,” Chatfield said. “We’ve even had people who moved away come back to see what we’ve done. We decorate the yard and living area.”
Chatfield said she also started a tradition of reading ghost stories in her front yard, including a tale about Lake Lanier. Unfortunately, she said the neighborhood doesn’t have many kids like it used to, so the trick-or-treater numbers have dwindled.
This year, Chatfield said she’s still bringing out her yard decorations for Halloween including tomb stones and a zombie crawling out of a grave. Her husband plans to set up speakers outside to amplify scary music throughout the neighborhood.
Instead of handing out treats, Chatfield said she intends to make a contraption out of cardboard tubes, so she can drop candy to children without close contact.
“It’ll be fun and keep the social distancing thing going,” Chatfield said.
LaSha Ackerman of Gainesville said this year her family won’t trick or treat.
“For us, free candy is not worth potentially exposing my kids, and by extension the rest of my family, to COVID-19,” she said.
Since March, Ackerman said her loved ones have been cautious by wearing masks, avoiding public indoor places and only socializing with immediate family members and a few close friends, also known as her “quaranteam.”
This Halloween, she said her kids plan to attend a campout with her quaranteam, which will include watching outdoor movies, roasting marshmallows, playing games and making crafts.
“It will definitely be different from our normal Halloween traditions,” Ackerman said. “But with a few good friends and a little creativity, I think this could be the most fun Halloween ever.”