Trick or Treat: A Report on the Halloween Experience During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Pictured+is+a+house+in+Bayside%2C+Queens%2C+during+the+days+leading+up+to+Halloween.+Signs+of+warning+were+displayed+on+many+NYC+lawns+in+order+to+ensure+that+trick+or+treaters+stayed+safe+and+socially+distanced+from+one+another+during+Halloween+2020%2C+which+occurred+during+the+novel+Coronavirus+pandemic.++

Cadence Chen

Pictured is a house in Bayside, Queens, during the days leading up to Halloween. Signs of warning were displayed on many NYC lawns in order to ensure that trick or treaters stayed safe and socially distanced from one another during Halloween 2020, which occurred during the novel Coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 has interrupted many gatherings during the past eight months, including everything from birthdays to religious holidays, greatly affecting the overall motion of everyday life. In early October 2020, people of all ages wondered if Halloween would be the Coronavirus pandemic’s next victim? Now that Halloween 2020 has passed and we can assess it, the short answer is no, but the pandemic certainly affected the traditional ways in which Halloween was observed.

The CDC stated that the traditional “face to face” trick or treating was high risk and should be avoided, but “trick or treating where individually wrapped goody bags are lined up for families to grab and go while continuing to social distance,” was possible and was encouraged.

However, hope for a somewhat normal Halloween celebration were not viewed with the same legitimacy by medical experts. Dr. Tista Gosh, current Chief Medical Officer for Colorado’s State Health Department, stated that the current Halloween precautions put up by the CDC were too loose and were only there to please the public rather than to actually protect them. She advised that gatherings should be limited to close friends and family who live near one another and that any type of trick or treating, even socially distanced, is unwise.

Dr. Gosh is not alone in the decision to change the way that the celebration happened this year, as New York City also took precautionary measures in order to avoid a spike in Coronavirus cases.

The famous Greenwich Village Halloween Parade would have celebrated its 47th anniversary this year, but the dangers of COVID-19 have changed the course of action. Artistic and Producing Director, Jeanne Fleming  announced that she approached Halloween differently this year.

Spooky decorations: houses in Queens such as this one sported scary skeletons as decor for their festive homes during the Coronavirus pandemic.
(Cadence Chen)

Instead, the Halloween parade will be a surprise that “will be spontaneous and unannounced and unique to our night Parade,” Fleming said. The surprise turned out to be a tiny puppet parade designed by over 30 artists whose puppets have been a part of the Greenwich Village Halloween parade in years past.

Although organizers were not originally sure how they would handle the change of circumstances, they did a fantastic job of bringing some normalcy back to their viewers, who were able to enjoy the show from their screens.

The 28th Jackson Heights Children Halloween Parade, the largest in New York City, also decided to halt production this year. The neighborhood’s Beautification Group, who is in charge of the event, states that it was “canceled due to hazardous conditions,” which further reminds the neighborhood that COVID-19 is still prevalent in the city, with cases rising daily.

Despite there being no candy on offer this year, due to safety concerns with the Coronavirus pandemic, many house owners in New York City’s five boroughs still decided to maintain the Halloween spirit and went ahead and put up Halloween decorations.
(Cadence Chen)

Other institutions decided to modify their Halloween celebrations this year by offering their communities various substitute activities instead, including visiting parks around the city, such as Sunset Park in Brooklyn and Central Park, going pumpkin picking in Governor’s Island, and visiting museums such as the Paranormal Historical Investigations at the Morris-Jumel Mansion in Washington Heights. 

Although these places are different in terms of location, they all have one goal in mind — to keep their neighbors entertained while ensuring their safety during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Some neighborhoods have decided to opt-out altogether, announcing to their trick-or-treaters that they will not be participating this year. For instance, signs of apology were displayed throughout Bayside, Queens, stating that the neighborhoods will be unable to distribute candy this year.

However, do not get the impression that the lights were off on October 31st, 2020: skeletons still guarded lawns of New York City houses with their grim smiles, and the spooky spirit of Halloween remained intact. 

The famous Greenwich Village Halloween Parade would have celebrated its 47th anniversary this year, but the dangers of COVID-19 have changed the course of action. Artistic and Producing Director, Jeanne Fleming  announced that she approached Halloween differently this year.

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