The leaves are changing and houses are decorated with fake skeletons and spiders, it's the spookiest time of the year.
This year, Halloween will undoubtedly look different with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but East Lansing residents can still look forward to a safe and fun Halloween.
City officials acknowledged in an Oct. 9 press release that traditional trick-or-treating is one of the higher-risk Halloween activities and encouraged community members to consider safer ways to celebrate Halloween.
“I know a lot of folks may be concerned about having bunches of strangers come up to their door, so we want to let them know that it's okay, if you choose to not participate,” City Council Member Lisa Babcock said. “We respect that decision.”
Trick-or-treaters are urged to wear a mask (a costume mask does not count) and to practice social distancing, according to the release.
Participating homeowners are encouraged to use duct tape to mark six-foot lines in front of their homes and leading to the front door, and to position a disinfected distribution table between themselves and trick-or-treaters. The release also suggests that homeowners that do not feel comfortable distributing candy should keep their porch lights off.
For residents who aren’t comfortable trick-or-treating amid COVID-19, the city will be hosting other Halloween activities.
In replacement of East Lansing’s annual Great Pumpkin Walk, the East Lansing Downtown Management Board will be hosting the Great Pumpkin Photo Contest.
“Pumpkin Walk is such a special East Lansing event ... and because of COVID, unfortunately, we just don’t think we can do it safely,” Babcock said. “So we wanted to do something that gave at least the feel of Pumpkin Walk."
City officials announced the contest in a press release on Oct. 14.
“Community members are invited to submit up to five photos taken of their family, roommates and/or animal pals in costume (with pumpkins) for a chance to win a prepaid Visa gift card and/or a downtown East Lansing parking voucher,” the release said.
Photos may be taken anywhere, but the top prize will be rewarded to the best photo taken in Downtown East Lansing.
“There will also be a Great Pumpkin Selfie Station at the East Lansing Farmers Market on Oct. 18 and Oct. 25 for those looking for a perfect fall photo scene for their submissions,” the release said.
City officials hope that this new activity will encourage community members to get into the Halloween spirit while still remaining safe.
In addition to Halloween guidelines, the release reminds participants to wear a mask at all times when visiting downtown. More information on the photo contest can be found on City of East Lansing’s website.
The Center for Disease Control, or CDC, website also features a list of low-risk Halloween activities, such as carving pumpkins with members of your household or doing the same outdoors with friends at a safe distance.
CDC also suggests a Halloween movie night with people you live with. Halloween movie fans can also host a virtual movie night or with friends and family using websites like Scener, which allows users to stream movies and TV shows in a virtual room together.
Decorating the living space, hosting a virtual costume contest and admiring Halloween decorations are also classified as low-risk. A Halloween-themed scavenger hunt that takes participants past decorated houses is considered a safe option as well, according to CDC guidelines.
Babcock said that there is one safety tip that is extremely important during the holiday season.
“Don’t get between me and the chocolate,” she said.
This article is part of our Halloween print edition. Read the entire issue here.
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