COVID-inspired ingenuity made Halloween work

Mike Jiggens

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It’s amazing how a pandemic allows the creative juices to flow among the people. Halloween night was a good example of how ordinary people can think outside the box in a fun way that enabled them to help fill the bags of young trick-or-treaters and still keep everyone safe.

In the weeks leading up to Halloween, there was much debate as to whether or not the practice of door-to-door trick-or-treating should even take place this year amid a second wave of COVID-19. Some communities strongly advised against it, but health officials largely agreed it could be done safely as long as social distancing protocols were followed, masks (not Halloween masks) were worn and that youngsters weren’t gathered in large numbers.

Young kids are having a hard enough time as it is these days, trying to understand why they need to don masks everywhere they go. Informing them that Halloween wasn’t going to happen this year might have left behind several psychological scars.

We counted about 65 kids who dropped by this year, which was a slight drop-off from the previous year. We saw some residents who rigged up orange-painted cardboard tubes or PVC pipe to the railings of their front steps, allowing them to drop handfuls of treats into one end of the chute and let gravity send them down to an awaiting bag. The tubes, ranging from eight to 10 feet in length, easily promoted social distancing between adult and child.

A video that made its way through social media showed a zip line that had been crafted by a clever individual, spanning the distance between his front door and the sidewalk. A “ghost” attached to the line delivered treats in a pail to excited children standing at the sidewalk.

We didn’t go to such lengths in order to maintain safe distancing, but found our “drive-through window” concept worked just as well. By temporarily removing the screen, we raised the living room window – which is low to the ground anyway – and steered the kids in that direction. Using a pair of 18-inch tongs, my wife simply picked up pre-packaged bags of treats and extended her arm out the window to the awaiting bags held open by the enthusiastic trick-or-treaters. This negated the need for any of the kids to step inside the door or for us to venture outside. Everyone was safely distanced from the other, and the kids moved on to the next residence more than satisfied.

Kids arriving at the window were in groups of no more than three and were usually accompanied by a parent. It was clear that safety was on the minds of the supervising adults, and they ensured their young charges not only practised all the right protocols, but enjoyed themselves as much as they would have on any other Halloween.

So now our attention is turning toward the Christmas season. Halloween for young kids was essentially business as usual, as it turned out, but Christmas is apt to be a much different story. Young kids will wonder why Santa isn’t visiting any of the malls this year or why there aren’t any parades being held in his honour. The custom of kids sitting in the lap of the local mall Santa and whispering their wish lists into his ear is a major no-no this year, and parades that generate large crowds gathered on the streets won’t fly, either.

These customs could conceivably be replaced with virtual visits with Santa. If appointments are made with old St. Nick, he’d have the chance to know the kids’ names in advance and could make their interaction with him that much more personal and meaningful. There are probably other ideas afoot to make Christmas a little brighter for young children who have come to eagerly anticipate Santa’s arrival each December.

 

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