Have a happy, healthy Halloween

Learn how to safely celebrate Halloween by following CDC guidelines

Justice Seay, Editor

Horror is a key element of the Halloween season, but a health scare could ruin the holiday. To lessen the chances of contracting COVID-19, follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Halloween guidelines and celebrate in alternative ways.

Lower Risk Activities

Lower risk activities involve minimal contact with others and allow participants to perform them individually, virtually or in a socially-distanced group. When gathering with people outside of one’s household, members of the group should consider quarantining for 14 days prior and confirm they tested negative before the event, as well as wear a mask throughout, according to CDC guidelines.

Halloween Movie Marathon

Set up a perfect fall night with friends or family by holding a Halloween movie marathon. If opting for an in-person get together, pop individual bags of popcorn, set up a candy barwith utensils to scoop snacks and avoid spreading germsand put on a Halloween movie of one’s choosing. To avoid confined spaces, go to a drive-in using separate cars; social distance by spreading out blankets six feet apart on a lawn and project the movie onto the side of a building; or attend a Zoom call with someone sharing their screen playing the film.

Carving Pumpkins

Pumpkin carving allows participants to work individually towards a collective effort. Make amazing fall decor for the front porch while maintaining a proper distance by working with friends or family to create silly or spooky faces and designs. Spice things up by making the designs match a certain theme or compete against friends to see who can carve the best face. As carving can be a messy experience, doing it outside may help dodge a seriously scary clean up situation while keeping one safe and healthy.

Ghost Photoshoot

A recent trend on TikTok may be the best way to get in the Halloween spirit. Putting a twist on the classic sheet ghost costume, participants photograph their friends or pets wearing a white sheet with cut outs for eyes, often in unique locations, poses or added clothing items. The results turn out as comedic, albeit aesthetic, pictures that make for great Instagram posts or scrapbook opportunities.

Virtual Costume Party

With few options to show off costumes, as Trick-or-Treating and Halloween parties are not recommended by the CDC, one may need to get creative when planning this year’s group event. A virtual costume party allows attendees to premiere their ensemble to a large party while ensuring a virus-free holiday. Planning games, like creating the best one-sentence horror story or doing a neighborhood Halloween scavenger hunt, brings an element of fun and a sense of normalcy that combats the abnormality of partying through a screen.

Moderate Risk Activities

Moderate risk activities pose a higher possibility of contracting COVID-19, but are still deemed safer than typical Halloween events. These activities involve being near others outside of one’s household in an open-air environment. It may be hard to control distance between others during these activities, so the best way to stay safe when going to these events is wearing a mask at all times and attempting to stay at least six feet away from others when possible.

Trick-or-Treating

A Halloween staple, Trick-or-Treating will most likely occur the night of Oct. 31. The decision to participate in both going out or distributing candy will be up to each individual household; however, if one chooses to be a part of this annual tradition, precautions must be taken to prevent spreading the virus as much as possible. When handing out candy, households should have individually wrapped goodie bags ready to grab at the end of a driveway or lawn and whoever prepares the bags should wash their hands before and after, according to the CDC. Decorate a table for the bags or a walkway towards them to attract Trick-or-Treaters and compensate for a lack of closeness. If one goes Trick-or-Treating, remember to social distance not only with those giving out candy, but with other Trick-or-Treaters one passes while going house to house.

Haunted Forest

In place of haunted houses, which require participants and actors to be in extremely close proximity, horror fans should consider attending a haunted forest walk through. The open air environment decreases the chances of contact with others and spreading the virus through air particles, while also adding a layer of suspense and mystery to the experience, as scarers could emerge from the trees at any time or place. Located in Lenox Township, Scarefest Scream Park offers an attraction called the Forest of Darkness, described as “over one-third of a mile of mind bending twists and turns through a naturally horrifying forest path.” This alternative version of a haunted house serves as an ideal outing for brave groups searching for a scare this Halloween season. The CDC recommends that if screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised to lower the risk of respiratory spread.

Bonfire

A favorite fall activity for many, a bonfire proves to be a tradition that needs no altering in order to follow CDC guidelines. Making hot chocolate or cider, roasting marshmallows and telling scary stories around the fire turns a chilly fall night into a memorable and entertaining group activity. Positioning chairs at least six feet apart in the open-air environment allows those in attendance to feel safe and comfortable while enjoying a relaxing night with friends or family.

Pumpkin Picking

Local cider mills offer a variety of fall activities, including: hayrides, apple and pumpkin picking, bakeries and even petting zoos. Though petting zoos may be closed to protect the health of customers, taking a hayride to a pumpkin patch or apple orchard and finishing the day with cider and donuts makes for a picturesque afternoon spent with loved ones. When taking a hayride, one should only ride with members of their household or previously quarantined friends. While picking pumpkins and apples, use hand sanitizer or wash hands before and after. Additionally, follow any mask or distancing protocol set in place by the company.

This Halloween season will undoubtedly feel much different compared to previous years. While planning fall festivities, personal health, as well as the health of others, should be the top priority. By adapting plans to follow CDC guidelines, participants should feel safe and healthy during this season’s events and activities.