Halloween hiatus?

COVID-19 complicates trick-or-treating

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By Stacey Sheridan

Staff Reporter

The village of Oak Park has not yet determined whether it will permit kids to go trick-or-treating this year.

"That's the million-dollar question that we don't know the answer to yet," said Oak Park Public Health Director Mike Charley. He's hopeful it might be possible, but it is too soon to know.

While many Halloween costumes come with a mask, Oak Park has a historically colossal number of trick-or-treaters that go door to door each Oct. 31 and large gatherings of people contribute to the spread of COVID-19.

At the state level, no decisions have been reached yet regarding the safety of allowing children to trick or treat during the pandemic, according to Charley, who has been in contact with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).

"They're considering whether or not they should allow for Halloween and/or give some sort of pointed recommendation to local taxing bodies," said Charley. "We're sort of on standby right now waiting to hear back from the state to see what their recommendations are."

The trick-or-treating topic has already come up among local government officials.

"It is something we've been discussing internally already for the last couple of weeks actually," said Charley.

Trick-or-treating in Oak Park is a wildly popular tradition. Homeowners in Oak Park, particularly on the east side of the village, see as many as 800 trick-or-treaters out collecting candy per year. Charley said he had already spoken with an east side resident curious about this year's trick-or-treating.

"We haven't made any decisions yet," said Charley. "You got to be adaptive and you got to be able to make decisions and changes quickly during a pandemic."

Charley is optimistic that trick-or-treating will happen this year, but it will depend on the number of positive COVID-19 cases and how the infection rates are trending.

"I would say that it's likely that trick-or-treating is something that's going to occur, but we don't really know yet," said Charley.

Once Charley knows, he said he will make the information known to the community by issuing a public health order.

The scariest thing this Halloween will likely be COVID-19, but Charley thinks the virus will influence the costume choices of children should they be able to trick or treat.

"Everyone's going to be a physician or a nurse this year."

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Reader Comments

7 Comments - Add Your Comment

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Terry Schirico Werich  

Posted: September 28th, 2020 8:35 AM

If those who feel comfortable handing out candy put any kind of a picture of a pumpkin on their window or door, it means the children are welcome. No picture of a pumpkin please pass this house. Easy! Also allows you to take pumpkin down when you run out of candy??'?

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: September 28th, 2020 12:47 AM

Tricky weather could decide whether residents sitting outside is feasible. We had wet snow and below normal temps last year on Halloween. There will be a lot of pedestrian traffic on neighborhood sidewalks throughout the day and evening. Let's not promote a super spreader event!

Kline Maureen  

Posted: September 27th, 2020 10:52 AM

it is also up to each household whether or not they feel comfortable opening the door and handing out candy to random groups of children - if many residents are not comfortable doing this, it will be a very disappointing trick-or-treating experience for those children who do take part. Especially if the weather is cold and/or rainy, there could be greater numbers who leave the door closed and the porch light turned off.

Terry Schirico Werich  

Posted: September 27th, 2020 9:54 AM

Adults can play sports, go to a casino, go golfing or swimming at the country club but children can't go trick or treating? Are you kidding me? Do politicians have children? It is up to each family to decide whether or not their children go trick or treating not to the bureaucracy.

Liz Picone from Oak Park  

Posted: September 23rd, 2020 7:47 AM

Kids have lost so much this year and everything is so different. Can we not allow this one activity with precautions, social distancing, and masks??

Fatima Cristina from Oak Park  

Posted: September 4th, 2020 4:51 PM

I think we should go for it. Our block requested our 2nd block party for Halloween, so we can all sit out with our fire pits to hand out candy.

Christina Sellis Loranz from Oak Park  

Posted: September 4th, 2020 2:19 PM

Outdoors? With masks? I say we go for it. I'll set a bowl out and sit 10 feet away from it to see the trick or treaters. This is one holiday that doesn't have to include a meal with extended family or really even any indoor activity. I think it's smart to allow trick or treating and urge people NOT to gather in private homes.

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