Mayor Steve Schewel at a press conference, October 2020.

Like the birthday cakes and St. Patrick’s Day beers, trick-or-treating is going to look a bit different this Halloween thanks to COVID-19. Despite this, Durham Parks & Recreation is making the most of a gloomy reality, in hopes of keeping the spooky spirit alive.

“During the last several years we’ve had over 1,50 kids come to our porch for candy every Halloween, and we love it,” Mayor Steve Schewel said at a Tuesday press conference. “I’m excited to do it again in future years, but you all know that this year, because of COVID, Halloween is going to have to be different.”

After speaking with neighborhood leaders, other mayors, and NC Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen, Schewel highly recommends not bringing kids door-to-door this year on their candy quest. Similarly, Trunk-or-Treating events (an alternative popular with churches) should not take place.

To prevent folks from going ahead with their yearly festivities, the town won’t be giving barriers or adding police officers to neighborhoods for traffic control. Schewel says enforcement will essentially stay the same as it has for state and local orders, but that extraordinarily large parties may mean an officer showing up.

While this may be a bummer, Steve Schewel announced several different events being hosted by the Parks & Rec Department to keep you frightened. There’s a drive-thru trunk-or-treat, a costume party with games and crafts, a scavenger hunt, and more. The 32nd annual HallowEno will also soldier on this year, where families can drive through the park, look at decorations, hear live music, and get goodie bags to take home. 

Durham was the first city to enact a mask mandate, but COVID-19 has still left its mark. Durham County has had over 8,000 cases of COVID-19 to date. There have been 97 deaths. The entire state has had over 220,000 cases. Over 3,600 people have died.

Durham isn’t the only one changing its spooky celebrations. Chapel Hill canceled its annual Franklin Street festivities on Oct. 2. Raleigh City Council went over their plan Tuesday.

The NC Department of Health and Human Services has provided a list of low- and medium-risk activities you can do on your own, including pumpkin carving, scavenger hunts, and scary movie nights. The Daily Tar Heel also shared some ideas community members thought up, like a party with your “pandemic pod” or goodie bags to leave out.

It may be the spookiest night of the year, but safety comes first.

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