#childsafety | The Real Reason Families Are Displaying Purple Pumpkins This Halloween

From Good Housekeeping

  • Some communities are expanding on the Epilepsy Foundation’s Purple Pumpkin Project to signify that they are taking extra precautions to lower COVID-19 risks this Halloween.

  • A purple pumpkin on a porch or in a window means families will be wearing masks while handing out trick-or-treating candy, and will pass out wrapped grab-and-go bags.

  • Local officials are using purple pumpkins to bring more awareness to safety guidance, including tips issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Despite rising trends in new coronavirus cases across the country, Halloween is fast approaching and many families are still planning to participate in trick-or-treating this year; as many as 62%, in fact, per a National Retail Federation survey of 148 million Americans. But Halloween is certainly going to feel different, with many local officials encouraging social distancing and lower-risk outdoor activities after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed trick-or-treating as a “high-risk” activity. One advocacy group, normally in charge of organizing efforts to raise awareness on epilepsy during Halloween, is now helping families make trick-or-treating a little bit safer during the pandemic.

The Epilepsy Foundation created what’s known as the Purple Pumpkin Project back in 2012 after one parent wanted to raise awareness about his son’s condition; after inviting other parents to display a purple pumpkin on their porches to prompt conversations with neighbors, the Project soon earned active participants in all 50 states. Families can sign up here to partake in the project and learn how they, too, can raise awareness for the condition.

This year, however, the Purple Pumpkin Project seems to be expanding to signal to families that the household is taking extra precautions to lower COVID-19 risks.

What do purple Halloween pumpkins mean?

In addition to being a symbol for epilepsy awareness, Americans are displaying purple pumpkins to show they’ve followed local safety guidelines to keep trick-or-treating as safe as possible. Families who display a purple pumpkin will wear masks while answering the door or greeting trick-or-treaters, and as WFXT Fox25 in Boston reports, they will pass out candy that is individually wrapped in grab-and-go bags.

Officials in the Long Island region are also encouraging residents to take part in the new pumpkin initiative in the hopes that even small safety measures can reduce COVID-19 risks. CBS News in New York reports that Lynbrook town officials are actively telling residents to keep an eye out for purple pumpkins while trick-or-treating this year.

The Epilepsy Foundation has yet to update their Purple Pumpkin Project guide on their website, but the organization has seemingly embraced this year’s change to the meaning of a purple pumpkin display, as it also brings added awareness to the disorder. “The more people talk about purple pumpkins, I think the more people who have epilepsy will call out the fact that that is an initiative of The Epilepsy Foundation, and it is something that the community really relates to,” Jon Scheinman, the director of youth programs at the Epilepsy Foundation, told NBC affiliate WEYI.

Families who display a purple pumpkin may also do so to indicate that no sick individuals live in their home, as they’re heeding advice from CDC officials that indicates anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should isolate and limit interactions with others. In addition to wearing face masks and wrapping candy in grab bags to avoid cross contamination, health officials say that sanitizing high-touch surfaces throughout the night (like hand rails) is important. Plus, keeping your hands as clean as possible and keeping interactions brief (or simply leaving candy outside altogether!) is a good idea as well.

Purple pumpkins are indeed available to purchase on sites like Amazon, but you can simply paint a pumpkin purple at home, or even display pictures of a purple pumpkin in your window, to indicate you are adhering to local health guidelines.

What about Ttal pumpkins?

You’ve probably also heard about displaying teal colored pumpkins during Halloween, as FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) has organized national programs every year to keep kids with allergies safe. A teal pumpkin means families can find an allergy-friendly treat, or a non-food item altogether, at your home for those who may need it.

Teal pumpkins are still being displayed this year, allowing you to demonstrate that you’re prepared to help kids with allergies celebrate Halloween. In fact, the FARE organization has created an online hub for families to take what’s known as the “Teal Pumpkin Pledge” long before Halloween arrives. This year, the community is focusing on new and fun ways to celebrate Halloween safely — which may mean new traditions designed to keep you as close to home as possible.

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