Trick-or-treaters in Donald Trump masks showed up on Julie Muhlstein’s doorstep Halloween night 2016, just days before the presidential election. This year, the pandemic will make Halloween traditions tricky. (Julie Muhlstein / The Herald)

Trick-or-treaters in Donald Trump masks showed up on Julie Muhlstein’s doorstep Halloween night 2016, just days before the presidential election. This year, the pandemic will make Halloween traditions tricky. (Julie Muhlstein / The Herald)

Halloween cloaked in caution, trick-or-treating discouraged

As Snohomish Health District offers tips for safer fun, some still plan to hand out candy to kids.

A robot on stilts, twin Donald Trumps, a pint-sized Pete Carroll, they’ve all appeared on my doorstep. Cute and funny, creative and grateful, they’re the reason I so love Halloween.

With a 110-year-old house on one of north Everett’s most walkable streets, we normally get scores of trick-or-treaters. I’ve often lost count after opening the door to 100 costumed kids.

This year? With a pandemic that hasn’t subsided, it’s tricky to decide what to do about All Hallows’ Eve.

Some, with safety in mind, are coming up with inventive ways to celebrate Halloween, which this year falls on a blue-moon Saturday night.

“I plan to walk around (with) my kids to see the houses that are decorated. We won’t be knocking for candy,” Citlalli Zarate posted on the Nextdoor website. Zarate lives in Everett’s Delta neighborhood.

“We’re not having our youngest go out, but are allowing her to have a friend or two over,” said Joel Norris, also on Nextdoor. But at their north Everett home, he and his wife plan to “pass out candy if anyone shows.”

Others would like us all to make Halloween safety the highest priority at a time when the coronavirus has killed at least 220,523 people nationwide, 223 of them in Snohomish County.

“I wish people would be extra cautious about engaging in any of their normal or traditional holiday activities,” said Elizabeth Holmes, noting that the state Department of Health discourages trick-or-treating. “Keep little ones home this year and stay safe,” the Priest Point woman said in her Nextdoor post.

The Snohomish Health District recently sent out word to help people make smart Halloween plans. Posted on the agency’s website are “Tips for Celebrating Halloween Safely.”

“Traditional trick-or-treating is considered a high-risk activity for COVID-19 transmission and is discouraged by public health officials,” said the district’s Sept. 30 news release. Despite that warning, the agency included detailed suggestions, whether families are planning to go door-to-door or hand out goodies at home.

Dinosaurs greet each other during last year’s Downtown Trick-or-Treating in Everett. Health officials discourage trick-or-treating this year. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)

Dinosaurs greet each other during last year’s Downtown Trick-or-Treating in Everett. Health officials discourage trick-or-treating this year. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)

The Health District’s safer trick-or-treating tips include:

■ Wash hands before and after, and bring hand sanitizer.

■ Only go with household members.

■ Wear a cloth face covering that fully covers the nose and mouth. Halloween masks are not a substitute.

■ Maintain at least 6 feet from others.

■ Limit time away from home, and don’t travel to another neighborhood or housing complex.

■ Stay home if you aren’t feeling well.

Similar tips are offered for those handing out candy: Keep a face covering on; skip it if not feeling well; use gloves, plastic bags or tongs to give out treats; and sit in the driveway, garage, yard or on the porch to avoid having trick-or-treaters come to the door. Letting trick-or-treaters reach into a communal candy bowl is discouraged.

Parties with multiple households, indoor trick-or-treating, and “trunk-or-treat” events that draw large gatherings are no-nos, according to the health district.

The day before Halloween, Edmonds Lutheran Church will host a Drive-Thru Trunk or Treat. Scheduled for 4-6 p.m. Oct. 30 in its parking lot, 23525 84th Ave. W, Edmonds, the church has labeled its event “COVID-19 friendly.” Face masks are required.

Echoing tips from the Department of Health, the Snohomish Health District is specifically encouraging household-only or virtual Halloween fun, such as scavenger hunts, movie marathons or online costume contests.

It’s looking like a Halloween cloaked in caution, whatever people decide.

In Everett’s Northwest neighborhood, Emily Bott plans a candy scavenger hunt for her kids in the family’s backyard. “We do plan on having candy on our porch though, for any kids whose parents decide to take them trick-or-treating,” Bott said on Nextdoor.

Suzanne Kohl, another Northwest neighborhood resident, said on Nextdoor that she’d like to see glow-in-the-dark markers on sidewalks “to remind people to honor the six feet apart” and to create one-way signs “like in grocery stores’ aisles.” She said her daughter’s View Ridge neighborhood is doing something along those lines.

Northwest Everett’s Fran Wayne is putting candy on the porch, with a sign that says “please take one baggie only,” she wrote on Nextdoor. She’ll keep an eye out through her “full view storm door.”

The Delta neighborhood’s Carrie Skwarchuk doesn’t plan to leave a grab-and-go bowl outside. “Leaving it out, one of the older kids will dump the whole bowl in their bag,” she wrote on Nextdoor. One hand in the bowl is safer “than 20 or so tiny hands,” Skwarchuk said. “I will be handing it out.”

I haven’t decided what do about 2020 trick-or-treaters. A co-worker suggested finding a church collection basket, the kind with a long pole. In the meantime, I’ll think back on those favorite little — and big — Halloween visitors.

One year, a dad showed up with his little girl. He was dressed as a princess. His wife stood behind them on the sidewalk. I complimented him on the fancy get-up, then asked how he decided on it. “Happy wife, happy life,” he said with a laugh.

So. Happy Halloween. And if it makes the most sense, leave a sign out that says “See you next year.”

Julie Muhlstein:

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