By SOPHIA BONE
How will Halloween work this year? What will be allowed? How can people stay safe?
The Monterey County Health Department has put out guidelines stating that parties and gatherings of people not in your social circle of 12 people or with non-household members are not permitted and that trick or treating and “trunk” treating out of a car are not recommended.
And the City of Carmel will be following these guidelines as well.
Instead of the typical ways of celebrating, online parties, contests and outdoor socially distanced activities are advised by the Monterey County Health Department. Examples include vehicle decorating contests, driving through neighborhoods to see decorations or picking up treat bags. Other suggested outdoor activities include enjoying Halloween-themed meals at outdoor restaurants or drive-in movies.
To keep the festivities alive in town, the City of Carmel has strung orange and purple lights around Devendorf Park and the median on Ocean Avenue between Junipero and Mission. At Devendorf, a sign reminds residents and visitors that Oct. 31 is not just Halloween, but also the City of Carmel’s birthday.
“In a normal year the Community Activities Department holds a pumpkin roll and the city birthday Halloween parade and lunch,” says Leslie Fenton, executive assistant of the community activities department for the City of Carmel. “Due to COVID-19 restrictions this year those events had to be canceled.”
In place of such activities, the City of Carmel encourages homes and businesses to go all out in their decorations.
“String up lights. Put out cobwebs. Build a scarecrow,” Fenton adds. “But most of all don’t forget to decorate or carve a pumpkin! Then walk or drive around town and enjoy the fun.”
Mission Fields, a Carmel community off Rio Road and one of the most popular places for trick-or-treating, usually hosting hundreds of children, can be expected to look different than in past years.
“I loved having the open house that everyone could drop in to and the trick-or-treating was fun too,” reflects D’Anne Peterson, mother of three and resident of Mission Fields. “Even so, I feel like the most fun was actually at the house handing out the candy and having our house be open to friends.”
One difference this year will be the lack of trick-or-treaters.
“Many neighbors are putting out hazard signs in front of their houses so that people don’t come to their doors,” CHS sophomore Avi Desai reports.
Many Mission Fields residents are decorating their houses as per usual to encourage a drive through the neighborhood, rather than the normal festivities.
“We usually go through five Costco bags of candy every year,” Peterson mentions. “This year we donated it all back to the food bank for the signs that the high school made, and I think our neighbors did too!”
Residents of Paso Cresta, another popular spot for trick-or-treating in Carmel Valley Village, have significantly lower expectations for the holiday as well.
CHS sophomore Kailey Bevard recalls that last year there was so much traffic in her neighborhood on Halloween night that she got hit by a car amid all the chaos. This year, she expects it to look more casual.
“I think it is going to be more of a normal night,” Bevard predicts for her neighborhood. “Families just celebrating in a different way, maybe just a little something for the younger kids.”
Still, neighborhoods seem to have an emphasis on making sure that Halloween night is special for their kids, no matter what, and keeping a positive outlook.
“I just think that because of everything going on this year,” says Andrea Smith, mother of a 4- and 6-year-old, “it will make next year matter even more.”
Given their age, most high school students have grown out of the trick-or-treating part of Halloween, favoring big parties, small get-togethers or even opting out of the holiday all together.
“This year I am going to hang out with my girlfriend and go to a party and just kind of drive around,” CHS senior Drew Tarantino says. “So almost the same, but just no walking around and going trick-or-treating or anything.”
Tarantino adds that the party will definitely be outside and is expected to have half the attendees compared to previous years’. Others are avoiding parties altogether.
“I will be steering clear of any parties,” senior Niamh Cook says. “Lots of people mingling and cups are being shared? Yeah, no.”