This year because of COVID-19, the question seems to be “Is my neighborhood going to have trick-or-treat?” And then perhaps, “What safety measures are recommended?”
While the city of Ridgeland canceled its annual Trunk or Treat event at Freedom Ridge Park and advises against similar events and trick-or-treat in its neighborhoods due to the pandemic, other cities in the metro area seem to be leaving it up to residents to use their best judgement about how to celebrate.
The city of Jackson has not taken a stand for or against trick-or-treat.
In the Belhaven neighborhood, the Belhaven Garden Club has opted for a more traditional celebration instead of its annual block party, “The Belhaven Boo,” that drew as many as 500 people to Belvoir Place.
“We’re trying to keep the spirit of The Belhaven Boo alive through the neighborhood,” said Emmaline Smith, who heads the Halloween fun for the Belhaven Garden Club. “We have asked through our neighborhood newsletter that if people want to receive trick-or-treaters in some form they let us know.”
The plan is to mark each home friendly to trick-or-treaters with an orange balloon and to create a map of those homes and post it online on the Nextdoor social networking service and in the Greater Belhaven Neighborhood Foundation newsletter.
“We’re trying to keep something as normal as we can in what’s been a crazy year,” said Smith, the mother of a son, age 7, and a daughter, age 5. “We’re encouraging people to wear masks and to practice social distancing.”
A Jackson restaurant plans to set up a tent at Laurel Street Park and sell food, and some Belhaven residents who own coffee shops will have drinks and other items available to purchase from stands in their driveways, she said.
The city of Madison has not issued an opinion for or against trick-or-treat. Capt. Kevin Newman, administrative/support services commander for the Madison Police Department, said the city of Madison will observe Halloween, at the discretion of individual neighborhood associations, on Oct. 31.
“As we do each year, we ask trick-or-treaters to limit their activities to early twilight to no later than 10:00 PM.,” Newman communicated by email. “Trick-or-treaters should wear reflective clothing and be aware of traffic. Younger children should be accompanied by a parent or other responsible adult. Motorists are urged to exercise caution throughout the evening as younger pedestrians may be traversing the neighborhoods.
“Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Madison would like all Halloween participants to follow the most recent recommendations and guidelines established in the Governor’s most recent Executive Order. Additional guidelines and precautions are being offered by the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CD) and can be found at: hosts://www.cc.gov/coronaries/-Naco/daily-life-coping/holidays.hotly#halloween.”
The Hartfield neighborhood in Madison posted on its Facework page that families are welcome to enjoy trick or treat on Oct. 31. It advised, “Please consider handing out treats in driveways and wide-open spaces and remember CD guidelines for social distancing and mask wearing. Putting out containers for children to reach into is not advised.”
The Ashbrook neighborhood in Madison also used social media to provide tips on how to keep little ghosts and gremlins safe.
Among the tips: Homeowners, place candy directly into children’s buckets or bags in order to cut down on germs. Consider setting up a candy station in the driveway to help with social distancing. Do not leave an open candy bowl out for children to rummage through.
If your neighborhood is not trick-or-treat friendly, consider a trip downtown for a special event or to attend a celebration at a museum.
Get a head start on Halloween with the Mississippi Highway Patrol Troop C Enforcement Division and its second annual “Troopers and Treats,” scheduled Oct. 29 from 6-8:30 p.m. at the Mississippi Coliseum. The event is a trunk or treat with first responders.
Make the Two Mississippi Museums in Jackson a trick-or-treat stop from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Oct. 31. Trick-or-treat stations will be set up throughout the museums and there will be a social-distanced scavenger hunt. Admission is free during the event.
The Mississippi Museum of Natural Science has scheduled “Spook-tabular Family Nature Detectives” from 10 a.m. until noon on Oct. 31 at the museum. The program is recommended for children from ages 6-8 and limited to 15 people, including parents and children.
Face masks and social distancing are required. Families are asked to bring one blindfold and a reusable water bottle and to wear closed toe shoes and clothing appropriate for the trails. Insect repellant is advised.
The cost is $10 per person and free for museum members. Reservations are required. For reservations, contact Denise Mason at 601-576-6000 or denise.mason@Mims.ms.gov.
The Mississippi Children’s Museum is offering “MCKIM After Dark,” on Oct. 30 from 6-8 p.m. at the museum. The event will include provide children the opportunity to wear their costumes and include a spiderweb obstacle course and the creation of watercolor spiderwebs and bat headbands. Prizes for best costumes will be given.
General admission is $10 and is free for museum members. Masks are required for admission and will be provided for anyone who needs one. Guests are encouraged to purchase tickets online before the event due to limited occupancy.
The Mississippi Museum of Art is offering “Halloween,” a teen event with crafts, trivia, a gallery talk and prizes on Oct. 31 at 2 p.m. The event will take place outdoors in The Art Garden where the interactive art installation “Leonardo Drew: City in the Grass” is located and will incorporate activities inspired by the exhibit, “Van Gough, Monet, Degas and Their Times,” and the museum’s permanent collection exhibit, “New Symphony of Time.” No pre-registration is required. The event is free.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognizes that traditional Halloween activities are fun but are a risk for getting or spreading coronaries.
The CD recommends these steps if trick-or-treating: Stay at least 6 feet away from others who do not live with you, wear a cloth mask as part of your costume but do not wear a costume mask over it, use hand sanitizer that is at least 60 percent alcohol after touching objects or other people and wash hands for at least 20 seconds after returning home and before eating treats. Masks should not be worn by children under 2 years old.
For anyone distributing treats, the CD recommends avoiding direct contact with trick-or-treaters, giving out treats outdoors, if possible, setting up a station with individually bagged treats for children to take, wearing a mask and handshaking before handling treats.