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The fate of Trick-or-Treating decided

By Ginna Young

Will there be or won’t there be? Since decorations started hitting the stores in early August, that question has been on people’s mind, as to whether Halloween festivities will take place, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

After receiving comments from the Cornell community, and recommendations were handed down from the CDC against the public activities, city officials knew a decision had to be made.

The matter was discussed during Building, Parks and Recreation, and Public Health and Safety meetings Sept. 24, with input from Chippewa County Public Health director Angela Weideman.

In the CDC guidelines, people are discouraged from making door-to-door visits, and encouraged to stay away from large outdoor gatherings and indoor haunted houses. The guidelines also recommend that cloth masks should be worn, not dress-up masks, and never wearing the two together.

Instead, families are encouraged to make new traditions, such as watching a Halloween movie at home, making homemade treats to eat that night and decorating the house.

“As you guys know, this year is not a traditional year, for Halloween or, well, for anything at this point,” said Parks chairman Ashley Carothers.

Carothers said she knows people are waiting to buy costumes and candy, and said she thinks the Halloween festivities could take place. She suggested that the annual Trunkor- Treat event be moved to Mill Yard, as it is more spaced out than the city park where it has previously been held.

Weideman said she would like to encourage people to stay home and not hand out treats if they are sick, and wants to reduce risk to those such as the elderly population and those with chronic conditions. Weideman said if the event goes ahead, organizers should provide hand sanitizer and enforce the wearing of masks, although she admitted that she knows they can’t “police” every single person throughout the city.

“But, if you have some type of standards that this is what you’re hoping, people would be more apt to follow it,” said Weideman.

“We certainly don’t want to not do anything, but we also don’t want to prolong the wearing of the mask, either,” said Carothers, adding that masks will be mandatory for those handing out candy at Trunk-or-Treat, as well as gloves. “If you don’t want to wear a mask to participate, then don’t participate.”

Weideman said precautions should be taken for the least amount of contact as possible, as well as staying six feet apart at all times. She recommended that homeowners distribute treats on their porch or in the yard, by leaving a bowl out for children to help themselves.

Residents who choose not to hand out treats in any way, can put out a sign, stating they are not participating in the Trick-or-Treating and should keep their porch/yard lights off, as a signal there is no candy at that house.

“To me, I’d rather have one person handing out candy, than a bunch of kids reaching into a bucket and contaminating the whole bowl,” said city administrator Dave DeJongh. “The bowl idea doesn’t make sense to me,” agreed Public Safety chairman Aimee Korger. “Theoretically, there is not contact if anyone is putting stuff into a bag (held by a Trickor- Treater).”

It was also agreed that people handing out treats, must have them individually wrapped and store bought. The decision to move the location for Trunk-or-Treat was made after several present felt there would not be adequate spacing at the city park and that it would be safer for the kids, rather than have them running back and forth across the streets near the small park.

It was also agreed that the Trunk-or-Treat – which gives people who don’t get Trick-or-Treaters a chance to distribute candy – would be held on Halloween afternoon, Saturday, Oct. 31, at the Mill Yard Park, from 3-4 p.m. The neighborhood- wide Trick-or-Treat will take place from 3-6 p.m. that day, with the approval from the Cornell City Council at an upcoming meeting.

“The county health department isn’t saying not to do it,” said Carothers, “but if you’re going to do it, stay safe, use precautions.”