Communities across the Chagrin Valley are gearing up for Halloween in the era of COVID-19. Halloween mixes kids, who are more likely to have asymptomatic cases of the coronavirus, with older adults who are giving out candy. In Chagrin Falls, which draws trick-or-treaters from many neighboring communities, social distancing may prove to be a challenge.
Geauga Public Health Commissioner Thomas Quade said that there are no local or state bans in place for trick-or-treating as of this week. To live safely during the pandemic, the health department is encouraging people to apply the same basic principles to all aspects of their lives, including hand washing and covering coughs. The two principles that apply to Halloween are social distancing and wearing a mask.
“We’re not telling people don’t do it,” Mr. Quade said of trick-or-treating on Friday. “We’re saying to do it differently than they have.”
Communities should look into creative solutions for Halloween this year to encourage social distancing, he suggested. Some of that inspiration may come from looking back on graduations this spring, such as car parades. Mr. Quade also said that if the person who usually gives out candy is immunocompromised, this year might be a good one to skip. He said that it is best to find ways to avoid many kids touching a doorknob and sticking their hands in a candy dish, for example.
“We’re encouraging people to use some common sense,” he said. “Don’t come in contact with a lot of individuals. It’s about the number of exposures just as much as it is about the duration of a single exposure.”
Mr. Quade said that it may be helpful for children to wear a costume with gloves this year. He also said that trick-or-treaters should wear more Spiderman-style masks, which cover the nose and mouth, rather than Batman-style masks, which do not.
Bainbridge will still allow trick-or-treating in the township, according to Fiscal Officer Janice Sugarman. Hours will be 6-8 p.m. on Oct. 31, but residents should check with their homeowners associations for alternates dates in different neighborhoods.
Chagrin Falls Mayor William Tomko signed a joint letter with the mayors of South Russell, Bentleyville and Moreland Hills to encourage families to celebrate Halloween safely. The villages will have trick-or-treating on Oct. 31 from 6-8 p.m. but children are asked to stay in their immediate neighborhood, wear masks and practice social distancing. Gatherings of more than 10 people are ill-advised.
For people who do not want trick-or-treaters coming to their house, they are advised to turn off their outdoor or porch lights. Mayor Tomko said that the Chagrin Valley Fire Department’s haunted firehouse has been canceled along with the Chagrin Valley Jaycees’ OctubaFest.
“Our no. 1 thing is protecting the [Chagrin] schools’ ability to reopen as soon as they can and protect access to the sports programs. That takes precedence,” Mayor Tomko said. “If we continued with Halloween as in years past, we would really risk the occurrence of a superspreader event.”
Communities in both Cuyahoga and Geauga counties including Chester Township, Chardon and Solon have set Oct. 31 for trick-or-treating.
Orange Village will allow trick-or-treating from 6-8 p.m. with the same guidelines in place that Mayor Tomko discussed. Orange will also have a Safety Forces Treat Parade where the safety forces of the village will travel down residential streets with their lights and sirens on. Children can come to the end of their driveway in their costume for a treat. An itinerary will be posted on the village website and anyone who misses the parade can come to Village Hall at 4600 Lander Road for treats from 5:30-6 p.m.
Orange Community Education and Recreation, a branch of the Orange City School District, is hosting its annual event known as Trunk-or-Treat. Local organizations usually decorate the trunk of their cars and children go trick-or-treating from car to car. This year, each family will remain in their car and watch Hotel Transylvania in the parking lot. Treats will be provided. The event is taking place on Oct. 30 and Oct. 31 at the Pepper Pike Learning Center, 32000 Chagrin Blvd.
The 49th Annual Hiram House Camp Pumpkin Festival in Moreland Hills has been canceled. It will take place on Oct. 10, 2021.