Who Would Have Thought Trick-Or-Treating Might Not Happen?


If you told kids last year to enjoy trick-or-treating because in 2020, they couldn’t, those kids would have laughed at you.

Is it safe for kids in a global pandemic to enjoy trick-or-treating? There seems to be a bit of doubt about that.

Health officials in Los Angeles County, California, banned the Halloween tradition earlier this week. They cited the COVID-19 pandemic, calling trick-or-treating too dangerous. They also banned “trunk-or-treating” and Halloween parties, because of the difficulty of maintaining social distancing.

And if you like haunted houses, they were also out of the question, according to reports this week.

Just as the heartbreak — for kids and candy makers — began to set in, potentially good news surfaced. Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Wednesday they “slightly revised” the guidelines.

Health officials were no longer banning the popular activities. But the were also recommending against them.

Deadline explained the shift came after “many parents and business’ went apoplectic with outrage.” (I note what should have been an obvious grammar mistake: the plural of business is businesses. Ugh!)

In any case, once again, people allowed outrage to override common sense and safety.

Parties, Halloween attractions still off-limits

The revised rules from Los Angeles county continue to ban Halloween gatherings, events or parties with non-household members. Carnivals, festivals, live entertainment, and haunted house attractions also remain under the ban.

But the guidelines are clear about why recommend against door-to-door trick-or-treating and trunk-or-treating.

“…It can be very difficult to maintain proper social distancing on porches and at front doors, ensure that everyone answering or coming to the door is appropriately masked to prevent disease spread, and because sharing food is risky.”

They even suggest alternatives:

  • Online parties/contests (e.g. costume or pumpkin carving)
  • Car parades that comply with public health guidance for vehicle-based parades including:
    • Drive-by events or contests where individuals dress up or decorate their vehicles and drive-by
      “judges” that are appropriately physically distanced.
    • Drive-through events where individuals remain in their vehicles and drive through an area
      with Halloween displays.
    • Drive-in events where individuals can receive a treat bag (limited to commercially packaged
      non-perishable treats) or take-away item from an organizer while the participants remain in
      their vehicle.
  • Halloween movie nights at drive-in theaters (must comply with the public health drive-in movie
    theater guidance).
  • Halloween themed meals at outdoor restaurants (must comply with the restaurant protocol).
  • Halloween themed art installations at an outdoor museum (must comply with the public health
    museum guidance.)
  • Dressing up homes and yards with Halloween themed decorations.

So here’s the point.

Parents and children have numerous ways to safely celebrate Halloween if they don’t do the traditional trick-or-treating most of us grew up with.

Yes, it sucks not to be able to celebrate Halloween the old-fashioned way. But I’d politely suggest that people I know who’ve had COVID-19 would likely tell you it sucks worse to deal with that.

I seriously doubt that any children who aren’t allowed to knock on doors for one single Oct. 31 will be permanently scarred from the trauma. Those kids have already survived a difficult year that kept them out of classrooms for months. (In some cases, they continue to learn from home.)

But many places report lower numbers of new cases. That means all of that collaboration that took so long to happen may actually be working.

If we can continue to collaborate on safety for Halloween, we might have a higher number of people able to enjoy their family gatherings on Thanksgiving.

Not going door-to-door in costume seems like a small price to pay for that.

Patrick is a Christian with more than 29 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.