Don’t be scared, just be prepared this Halloween
THE JOURNAL FILE PHOTO/CARMEN MARIE FABIO
One of these three costumes will pass the COVID-19 restrictions and recommendations but the other two would be equally as frightening if the kids were masked – particularly the one in the middle.
So we have the green light from the Quebec government for the kids to go trick or treating this Halloween. Not an easy decision for the government or for parents to make during a pandemic (remember the innocent days of a year ago when all there was to fret about at Halloween was a little rain?) but given all the stresses the kids have been through over the past several months, and all the healthy physical and social activities they’ve had taken away while still attending school five days a week, it feels like some normal seasonal fun is needed – especially when it’s fun that happens outdoors. While trick or treating is officially being discouraged in nearby COVID-19 hotspots, notably Ottawa and Toronto, it feels like a little release will do a world of good for the mental and emotional health of kids who (lets face it) are gathering in groups all day anyway. That isn’t to say we should throw all caution to the wind, but there are ways to make sure trick or treating works safely.
Embrace the mask
This year of all years, it’s time to embrace the Halloween mask – finally a mask that’s fun again! While most years we advise caution with putting masks on young ones, this seems like the perfect time to work a mask into the costume plan. Of course, it’s still a good idea to make sure they can see and breathe clearly, but this one seems like a no-brainer. I’m imagining a spike in the popularity of young doctor (or perhaps epidemiologist?) costumes this year. Think scary surgeon, bandana-faced bandit or balaclava’d bank robber – the possibilities are endless.
Not that way – don’t take the bank robber reference too literally – but many people are making creative plans to get equipped to distribute treats while maintaining the all-important social distance. Whether that means arming yourself with a pair of extra-long barbeque tongs for dropping treats into bags, or contriving some sort of elaborate candy delivery chute out of PVC pipe or empty wrapping paper tubes, there are ways to have a lot of fun with this. A candy catapult comes to mind, but that might be going too far…
Another easy option is setting out well-spaced treats on a folding table (and re-supplying as they go) so kids can keep their distance while keeping Halloween traditions alive.
Don’t forget ‘normal’ safety
I’d be remiss not to give a nod to ‘normal’ Halloween safety in all of this. While it’s easy to get wrapped up in the perils of the pandemic, Halloween has never been a normal night of the year and it’s a good idea to remind ourselves of what to watch out for. That means a reminder to drivers to be extra cautious on the streets along with a refresher on road crossing safety for kids. Make sure that costumes aren’t so long as to trip kids up (I have heard that on occasion they get excited and start running), give everyone a flashlight and don’t forget to do the annual inspection to make sure that whatever comes home in the haul passes muster for allergens or any other contents that might be of concern.
Don’t be scared
There’s no reason to fear saying no to traditional Halloween – if you are concerned for your own health or that of a loved one there’s no obligation to open your doors, or opt for a ‘decoration only’ version this year. Halloween has always been a participation of the willing affair and this one will be no different. But for those who do embrace the spirit, there’s no reason this Halloween shouldn’t be a safe one in our region as long as a little extra vigilance is respected. Maintaining distancing, avoiding indoor gatherings and sticking to established groups will help the kids stay healthy and safe while getting a desperately needed outlet for a bit of fun.