Many events have been canceled this year, but Halloween won’t be one of them.
On Sept. 26, Enjoy Oxford posted its guide to Halloween events in the Oxford area, kicking off the month with the promise of candy and kid-friendly frights despite COVID concerns. The circumstances are unusual this year, but they won’t stop families from trick-or-treating on Oct. 31.
That will still happen this year, but with four guidelines put in place by the city of Oxford. The city recommends only trick-or-treating with residents of the same household, keeping six feet from other trick or treaters, sanitizing hands frequently and wearing a face mask.
“Honestly, I’m surprised the city is allowing trick-or-treating,” said Oxford resident Amy Durkham-Fankhauser.
She said her family is worried for the community’s safety and explained her family has been following guidelines and staying home as much as possible since March. But ultimately, she said she is happy about the city’s decision.
Durkham-Fankhauser said she plans to take part in trick-or-treating with her family while following the city's guidelines. Her children will stay in their household group, wear masks and remain outdoors.
“Our family will dress up and go trick-or-treating like we always do,” she said.
The city has planned socially-distanced Halloween activities leading up to Oct. 31. Families can enjoy the holiday while staying distant to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
“Everything is scaled back,” said Assistant City Manager Jessica Greene.
Oxford’s annual Halloween Parade — an evening of games, live music, candy handouts and even a pet costume competition — was canceled this year due to the large crowd it attracts.
The decision to allow trick-or-treating in Oxford was made after careful consideration.
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According to the Center for Disease and Control (CDC), the primary method of COVID-19 transmission is through “exposure to respiratory droplets carrying infectious virus,” which raises concerns about large gatherings, sharing personal items and close contact with others — all of which are hallmarks of the traditional Halloween experience.
“Once the [CDC and governor’s] guidelines were released, we went ahead and released ours,” Greene said.
City Council’s main goal was to provide the option for families to do what felt right for them.
“It’s flexible enough that if you don’t want to do it and don’t feel comfortable with it, you don’t have to,” she said.
Greene said the city had to balance public health concerns with some residents' requests that annual trick-or-treating go on as usual.
Greene explained several trick-or-treat methods the city deemed safest, like “sending candy down a chute” or “handing it out with a silly grabber” that will add a fun twist to the night.
In the end, Oxford residents are optimistic despite the circumstances.
“We should be able to enjoy two hours of costumed fun,” Durkham-Fankhauser said.