By Kimberly Crossland

These days, it seems like everything is canceled. Fairs. Concerts. School. Since March, we’ve been living in a canceled culture, so it makes sense that as the holidays approach, families are starting to consider how to approach traditions. With Halloween up first, many parents are wondering whether or not they will be able to take their kids trick-or-treating. Neighbors are debating whether or not they will turn off their porch light or welcome the ghosts and goblins.

I did a small, informal survey of parents in Vail to get a flavor for what Halloween 2020 will look like. 65% of the respondents said they plan to do trick-or-treating as usual. One mom said, “The kids have already missed celebrating birthdays (their own included), school, appointments, fun or any kind since March. If someone is concerned about COVID they can skip our house but we will be handing out candy and trick or treating here.” Another expectant mom and teacher added, “It’s a holiday where it is easy to socially distance, and many costumes incorporate masks or gloves already! I will be giving out candy using salad tongs.”

While the slight majority opted to trick-or-treat as usual with minor precautions taken, 35% of the other respondents said they plan to stay at home or only ring the doorbell of a few select neighbors they know. One Vail resident said, “We plan to play it safe for our community and stay home. I really want schools open and sports to start up, but if things like this keep happening everything will have to shut down again.” Another mom with young children echoed those same thoughts saying, “We will get together with the one family we’ve been social with, indoors, and do games and candy hunting with the kids. We’d rather sit out this Halloween just to be safe.”

There are plenty of families who are still trying to make this highly-anticipated holiday happen with some new ideas in mind. One mom plans to pre-fill candy bags while wearing gloves, and then place them on a table to avoid sharing germs while kids shuffle candy around in a bowl. Several moms cited seeing a PVC pipe turned into a candy chute to hand out sweet treats while staying socially distant and clean. Many parents plan to sanitize all candy and carry hand sanitizer around for their children to apply as needed.

While families are making different choices, many are still uncertain about what’s best and are just leaning into what feels like the best choice for their family. One Vail mom who emphasized, “There is no right or wrong choice here. Feeling torn just like every other decision lately.” Another mom shared that same feeling of uncertainty saying, “I’m waiting for some kind of sign to direct me. We have costumes for the little kids just in case, maybe they will dress up and we will do a candy hunt. I’m not sure what the answer will be for us.”

Personal preferences aside, there will be a handful of events likely to take place around the community. For example, Vail Christian Church is hosting a Masquerade 5k run/walk to benefit 1Mission on Halloween day, 8 a.m. at the church. But while some events are happening, others will shift or be canceled. One Vail neighbor that traditionally sets out their telescope for others to see the stars will likely be swapping the eyepiece for a computer screen to avoid sharing germs.

Many trunk-or-treats are also shifting how they approach this traditional activity. The Pima County 4H club’s annual trick-or-treating for canned food is fully canceled. Typically the organization seeks to receive donations for the food bank but this year is not due to their phase zero of lockdown, which prevents in-person meetings. The cancelation of this event will result in a loss of approximately 400 pounds of canned food which typically gets collected on Halloween alone.

There’s no doubt that this year Halloween will look different. Still, if families have their way, the traditional approach to trick-or-treating will likely continue.

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