BUCKHANNON – The Upshur County Commission scheduled trick-or-treating for 6 to 8 p.m. on Halloween, Oct. 31, which falls on a Saturday.
The commission decided to schedule trick-or-treating during Thursday’s Oct. 8 commission meeting. Upshur County Commission President Terry Cutright said he wanted to set a time in advance to give people a chance to prepare.
“We put a lot of thought into this, and my suggestion would be to let the parents decide if they want to take their children trick-or-treating or not,” Cutright said. “If they do, okay, and for homes and residents, if you want them to come to your door, leave the porch light on. If not, leave the porch light off.”
At city council’s most recent meeting Oct. 1, city officials agreed to postpone their decision about scheduling trick-or-treating until council’s Oct. 15 meeting because of the recent spike in COVID-19 cases locally, which resulted in Upshur County Schools moving to online-only instruction this week.
Mayor Robbie Skinner said he felt scheduling trick-or-treating at the Oct. 1 meeting would be irresponsible, and council members agreed to wait until the next meeting to decide and discussed collaborating with the county commission.
According to its agenda for the Oct. 15 meeting sent out Friday morning, council will discuss scheduling trick-or-treating for 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Halloween.
Commissioner Sam Nolte asked if they should wait and see if the city council schedules a time for trick-or-treating.
“I think we should let people know so they can make their plans,” Cutright responded. “The only way we wouldn’t have it is if the governor said not to have it. I don’t think it’s right to not give the public notice so they can make arrangements.”
Commissioner Kristie Tenney noted Oct. 31 was a Saturday this year and asked if they should use the same time-frame they used last year.
“I agree with you that I would like to be able to see the people make a decision if the parents feel comfortable with them going,” Tenney said. “If you do want someone to come to your house to trick-or-treat, but you don’t feel comfortable handing out candy, you could have a bucket out there that says, ‘please take one.’”
“I know there are individuals who just enjoy watching the children – most of them have a mask with their costume – but we could table that until the 22nd, just to make a final decision,” Tenney added.
County administrator Carrie Wallace said people should consider incorporating masks worn on a daily basis to their costume because Halloween masks do not help stop the spread of COVID-19.
“The traditional Halloween masks do not really protect others from the virus if you were to be infected because of the holes that they have around the nose and the mouth,” Wallace said.
Responding to Tenney and Nolte, Cutright said he would rather set a time to give people more time to plan ahead. Commission’s weekly meeting Oct. 15 has been canceled, so Oct. 22 is their next regularly scheduled meeting.
Tenney made a motion to set the date and time for trick-or-treating for Oct. 31 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and encouraged everyone to use the suggestions they put forth. The motion passed unanimously.
According to the Centers for Disease Control website, traditional trick-or-treating is listed as a ‘higher risk’ activity, while ‘one-way’ trick-or-treating in which individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab and go while continuing to social distance (such as at the end of a driveway or at the edge of a yard) is considered a ‘moderate risk’ activity. (The CDC advises anyone preparing bags to wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds prior to preparing the bags.)
According to the CDC, some ‘lower risk’ Halloween activities include:
- Carving or decorating pumpkins outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends
- Doing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house admiring Halloween decorations at a distance
- Having a virtual Halloween costume contest
- Having a Halloween movie night with people you live with
- Having a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home rather than going house to house