Halloween’s on hiatus for younger and older students alike

Widespread deaths and an infectious disease pandemic sound like a plot taken directly from a Halloween horror movie


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Parents and children are creating alternate way to celebrate Halloween this year as the pandemic spoils the traditional trick-or-treating

Leading up to Oct. 31, students and parents are weighing the risks and benefits of  venturing out for trick-or-treating in the age of COVID-19. 

Although some students feel like they have “aged out” of the yearly ritual, some are unwilling to give it up. Typically, Sophomore Sophie Gies would be participating in the candy-stealing fun.

“Having Halloween every year, you just do it,” said Gies. “It would be nice to just go out and go around looking at people’s costumes.” But Gies, like many other students, will not celebrate Halloween this year roaming the streets. Instead, she will participate in the fun from her home.

“I might dress up for the fun of it, and FaceTime some friends. I don’t think I’m going to go out,” said Gies.

Others plan to go, despite considerable risks in trick-or-treating this year. Sophomore Lindsay Umlauf says she is fearful of attracting COVID-19 from candy.

But despite the danger, Umlauf said she is “likely going to go, if I’m allowed to. They’re probably going to put rules up for trick-or-treating. But, I would love to go if I could.”

Many of the towns included in the New Trier Township have already placed Halloween guidelines on their websites. The Village of Winnetka’s webpage includes information such as recommended trick-or-treating hours, and a reminder to wear masks and use hand sanitizer. 

Senior Grace Yu has a headstart on Halloween festivities this year. She recently attended a birthday party gathering where she and her friends dressed as characters from the popular game, Among Us. 

However, Yu and her friends were careful to limit their risk of attracting COVID from each other, socially distancing and masking up, along with other adjustments.

“I think what we considered was, first of all, were there going to be any people that we didn’t know. In this case, it was our friend group, and we knew where everyone was, we knew what everyone had been up to, which hasn’t been going to any huge gatherings,” said Yu.

Yu and her friends also talked about how to deal with food. 

“If we were going to eat food there, then maybe when you’re eating food, separate yourself from the rest of the group,” said Yu.

Many parents of younger students have similar concerns. Third-grade teacher Debbie Honigberg at Romona Elementary School in Wilmette presumes many of her students will not venture out on Halloween, and opt for other entertainment instead.

“I suspect that most [students] will not partake in [trick-or-treating] this year since their parents are keeping them home from school in order to be very careful.” said Honigberg. “Some students were talking about their family having a party, but I don’t know if it will include anyone outside of their home.”

According to the U.S Census Bureau, 41.0 million children aged 5-14 in 2019 were expected to partake in trick-or-treating. This Halloween, only 24.2 million children under 14 are expected to hit the streets.

Romona’s staff and parents have made adjustments to run the annual Halloween parade virtually, to provide the elementary school students with the same opportunity to show off their outfits. Honigberg does not believe this will diminish her students’ enthusiasm for the event.

“At Romona… they have canceled the parade and are having a virtual parade using pictures of students in their costumes.” said Honigberg. “The boys and girls are very excited.”

Wilmette resident Li Huang is cautious about her children being exposed to COVID-19, choosing to stop them from trick-or-treating this year.

“This year, because of the pandemic, I will try to reduce the chance that my kids meet other people, or I will try to reduce the chance that other kids come to my house,” said Huang. “They could dress up at home, if they want to.”

Huang says she hopes to still embody the Halloween spirit within her own home. Huang’s daughter Megan, 7, and son Teddy, 3, plan to suit up as a firefighter and SpongeBob this upcoming holiday. 

“Regarding other games, I was thinking maybe I would hide candy bags somewhere and let [my children] find it themselves,” said Huang. “They’ll be happy.”