[Due to the weather forecast, some of the planned activities have been rescheduled and updates have been provided.]
The Town of West Hartford is asking residents to follow Connecticut Department of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines regarding safe Halloween celebrations.
By Ronni Newton
While a celebration of Halloween often involves wearing a mask, those masks aren’t the type that protect the community from COVID-19, and Town of West Hartford officials are asking residents to exercise caution in their celebration of the holiday this year.
The town has also planned several events for people of all ages.
“We all know how different everything is this year and so it is with Halloween,” Mayor Shari Cantor told We-Ha.com. “We want our community to protect each other, stay healthy mentally and physically and enjoy life as safely as possible. You can enjoy Halloween and celebrate in safe and creative ways.”
While West Hartford’s traditional Halloween Stroll, hosted by the Moms & More Club and involving thousands of costumed children and adults, was canceled this year, there have been ongoing discussions about how to handle trick-or-treating.
The state Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued guidance (see PDF below) that West Hartford officials plan to follow.
In an Everbridge message to the community Wednesday afternoon, Cantor said that traditional trick-or-treating, where children go from door-to-door collecting candy, is considered a high risk activity and is not recommended for this year.
Suggested modifications include leaving individually wrapped goodie bags or pieces of candy on a table that is placed at the end of your driveway or yard where items can be taken while social distancing is maintained.
“Parents and guardians should limit the number of homes their children visit,” Cantor said in the Everbridge message. “Children should stay with their family unit, remain 6 feet away from others, and wear a face covering instead of a costume mask.”
Adults interacting with others should also wear a face covering.
Halloween masks should not be worn over other face coverings, because that could make it too hard to breathe.
The community is being asked to refrain from hosting or attending Halloween parties – even outdoor parties.
Suggested COVID-safe activities include: “a candy scavenger hunt in your family’s backyard, pumpkin carving, and a virtual Halloween costume contest.”
Several safe Halloween activities are planned in West Hartford, including a Halloween Drive-Through Trick-or-Treat event at Sedgwick Middle School.
The drive-through event will be held on Halloween, Saturday, Oct. 31, from 10 a.m.-noon.
Costumes and decorated vehicles are encouraged, said Public Relations Specialist Renée McCue, organizer of the event.
Vehicles will enter the event from Wardwell Street, and exit onto Sedgwick Road. Candy will be distributed to all participants, and will be placed either in the trunk of the car or back seat.
The West Hartford Firefighters Local 1241 has donated candy for the event, as has COSTCO, McCue said.
McCue said she has about 30 volunteers, mostly high school students, and is recruiting additional people to dress up in “non-scary” costumes to line the Sedgwick driveway (physically distanced) and serve as a main attraction of the event. There will be fire trucks, police cruisers, and music as well.
“I welcome people of all ages to join us to be among the cast of characters that children will see when they roll through the drive-through Halloween event,” McCue said.
Anyone interested in dressing up should email [email protected] with their name, email, cellphone number, and (optional) chosen costumed character.
Additional local activities include:
- Family movie night featuring “Hocus Pocus” outside at the gazebo at Elmwood Community Center. Due to the weather forecast, this event, originally scheduled for Oct. 30, has been postponed until Friday, Nov. 6, 5-7 p.m. Free, but registration is required.
- Halloween Costume & Car Parade for Senior Citizens, has been rescheduled for Saturday, Oct. 31, at 11 a.m. for senior citizens at Elmwood Community Center’s upper parking lot. Details are: “HONK, SHOUT & WAVE! Decorate your car and wear a costume! Experience our Halloween Parade from the safety of your car. Participants will receive a Trick or Treat Goodie Bag filled with fall treats. Gift cards will be awarded for the Best Costume & Decorated Car. This event is free but registration needed. Meet in the Elmwood Community Center upper parking lot at 10:45 a.m. Please wear your face mask and remain in your car during parade and pick up. This event is made possible through the generosity of our co-sponsor Companions for Living. Please email [email protected]
westhartfordct.gov or call 860-561-7583 for reservation by Oct. 23.” This event is free of charge.
- Mobile Mall-o-ween at Westfarms, Saturday, Oct. 31, 9 a.m.-noon. Children dressed in costume in decorated cars will drive through the Boo-levard at Westfarms. Open to the public and free of charge, members of the community will collect candy along the route from the safety of their vehicles. To adhere to state guidelines, participants will wear masks when driving through the space to collect candy while staff will be adhering to social distancing and wearing masks and gloves while distributing treats.
- Halloween Picnic and Games for children with special needs ages 11 and older, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2-5 p.m. at Elmwood Community Center. Registration required.
More details are also available on the calendar on the Town of West Hartford’s website.
“We need to remain vigilant and steadfast with hand washing, physically distancing, and wearing face coverings because these actions remain the most important ways we can protect ourselves, each other and support our schools and businesses,” Cantor said in her message.
“Thank you for listening. Be well and be safe,” she added.
Like what you see here? Click here to subscribe to We-Ha’s newsletter so you’ll always be in the know about what’s happening in West Hartford! Click the blue button below to become a supporter of We-Ha.com and our efforts to continue producing quality journalism.