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FOR THE WEEK OF OCT. 26, 2020

Trick-or-treat alternatives: Enjoy Halloween this week without spooky health risks

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Look for a Halloween event or activity suggestion in your area. Anything seem interesting?
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What's the weather forecast for Saturday, Oct. 31?
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Describe an article or photo focused on another fall tradition – such as sports, food or politics.

A new Halloween scare is lurking: the coronavirus. Many parades, haunted house attractions, hayrides, pumpkin festivals and other large events around the country are canceled for health safety. The Six Flags theme park chain dropped its annual Fright Fest celebrations. Beverly Hills, Calif., is among a handful of cities that prohibit house-to-house candy pickups and car-based trunk-or-treating on Oct. 31.

Most health officials simply advise against traditional trick-or-treating Saturday and suggest candy hunts and pumpkin-carving in a yard, park or home, or a Zoom costume contest, or a party with a few trusted friends wearing protective face masks and smashing a candy-filled a piñata (hanging paper figure). Plain masks can be decorated with Dracula's fangs or a witch's nose. (Regular costume masks aren't safe enough and shouldn't go over a face mask, which can make it hard to breathe.)

Families who feel it's OK to go door-to-door can take precautions such as hand-washing and candy package wipe-downs before any snacking. Neighbors could agree to start earlier so kids aren't all out at once, and could stagger the hours by age. Candy packages can be placed on trays at porches on driveways to avoid handouts or bowl-grabbing. Some creative adults crafted tubes or slides to send candy bags and boxes to visitors as no-touch, socially distant deliveries. "This year has the potential to be the Halloween that kids remember the most because their parents made an effort to make it extra special during a very scary moment in history," says Bill Cotter, a children's book author and illustrator.

Those affected financially by these latest changes and disruptions in a topsy-turvy year include candymakers, costume stores and owners of season attractions. "We waited six years to get Halloween on a Saturday, and now this," said George Garcia, owner of Fantasy Costumes in Chicago.

Doctor says: "It's very hard for me to figure out how you're going to do the normal trick-or-treating, the normal Halloween." -- Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, professor of pediatric infectious diseases at Stanford Health Care in California

Mayor says: "As a father, I know how disappointing this is for our children." – Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles mayor

Professor says: "Our goal should be to look at each activity and ask: 'How can we do this as safely as possible?' We can make trick-or-treating safer for kids." – Dr. Aaron Carroll, Indiana University School of Medicine

Front Page Talking Points is written by Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2020
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