Halloween might look a little different this year because of COVID-19, but people are still finding ways to partake in the holiday’s celebrations in a safe manner.
Although he is not sure how many trick-or-treaters to expect this year, one South Whidbey resident is not deterred from spreading fun.
Langley resident Kirk Lacewell found a way to dispense treats from his front porch without potentially spreading or contracting the virus by building a remote candy delivery system out of a PVC pipe with a bucket attached at the end.
Lacewell said his home is usually the “Halloween house” on the block. Even with only half of the decorations up this year, the house is still adorned with colorful string lights, spider webs and ghouls.
Lacewell’s four granddaughters have already tested the candy chute at his home on Anthes Avenue and can report satisfactory results.
Dressed as a ninja, 9-year-old Lilah Babaidhan said the chute is a low-risk way to have fun on Halloween.
“I like the candy chute because it’s very low chance to get the coronavirus because it goes down the pipe into the basket, so only you can grab it,” she said.
Her cousin, 11-year-old Piper Pontius, agreed.
“I like the candy chute because it has six feet of distancing,” said Pontius, who was dressed as a masked character from the horror movie series “The Purge.”
On Halloween night, Lacewell and his family will be able to drop treats down the tube without any contact with costumed visitors. The steps to the porch will be blocked so people can’t get any closer than 10 feet away.
“We usually get 400 trick-or-treaters at our house,” Lacewell said. “I don’t know what to expect this year.”
Public health officials at all levels are advising against trick-or-treating this year. But if people insist on participating in the activity, there are some recommendations: Trick-or-treaters should keep a distance of at least six feet between non-household members, and those giving out treats should limit candy to individually wrapped treat bags and place them on a station in a driveway or front yard to avoid crowding at front doors.
Other considerations to keep in mind include wearing a cloth face covering and not a costume mask, avoiding indoor spaces and close contact with the people outside your household and washing and sanitizing hands often, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Cloth masks can be part of a costume, but those with openings for breathing don’t count, Island County Public Health warns. A costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask, the CDC warned. Costume masks should not be worn over cloth masks, as it can make breathing difficult. Children under the age of 2 years old don’t need to wear a face covering.
Activities in large groups are discouraged, especially those that violate the gathering limitations outlined in Gov. Jay Inslee’s Safe Start plan, according to the state DOH. Trunk-or-treat gatherings with multiple households that facilitate crowding around treats is also a violation.
In Island County, gatherings should be limited to no more than 10 people outside of a household.
For those seeking additional socially distant options, guidance from Island County, the state Department of Health and the CDC and Prevention approves of household activities such as pumpkin-carving, scavenger hunts, movie marathons and virtual costume contests.
This story originally appeared in the Whidbey News-Times, a sister publication to The Herald.