As we head toward the end-of-year holiday season, fun and traditional gathering events will have to take a backseat to the novel coronavirus. New Year’s Eve, Christmas, and Thanksgiving Day celebrations will have a different feel than holidays past.
State and federal health officials are strongly advising all those who want to party like it’s 1999, to be mindful and use appropriate safety precautions when planning holiday shindigs this year.
This includes Halloween, as well.
In our area, in years past, there were (hay)loads of indoor and outdoor Halloween festivities that brought joy to children and adults alike.
Ghoulishly delightful Halloween celebrations that took place around our area as recently as last year, such as the Delsea Regional High School Jeepers Creepers event, the Rowan College of South Jersey – Cumberland Campus No Tricks Just Treats event, and the annual Family Fun Night, held at Gittone Stadium in Vineland, have all been cancelled.
“We’ve had a ghost tour with stories about all the sightings,” says Marianne Lods, executive director, Millville Development Corp – Glasstown Arts District, about another past event that won’t take place this year. “And then last year we did a murder mystery based on the game of Clue … It was a huge success.”
A local theater group performed while community members and guests from surrounding areas had fun guessing which character was behind the fiendish plot.
However, “This year, as for everybody, COVID is another story,” says Lods. “Another thing we can’t have,” she continues, “is Levoy Theatre and the Rocky Horror Picture Show. That used to be a full house [with] two showings and now they can’t even afford to put the lights on with the small crowds that are allowed in.”
New Jersey restricts indoor gatherings for places like the Levoy to “150 people or 25 percent of a room’s capacity, whichever number is lower.”
Although the cancellation of many Halloween traditions have caused some local residents to scream at higher decibels than Patricia Arquette in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, people are still finding alternate ways to continue their frightful festivities.
“I am still hosting my annual Halloween party,” says Jennifer Aron, library service assistant, Rowan College of South Jersey – Cumberland Campus. “We’ve cut it back [the number of people who can attend]. I’m also going to be doing it virtually.”
Aron, who loves haunted attractions, says the people who will be showing up to her Halloween bash will be close family, more or less, and will be held outside in her huge yard, which will allow for the partygoers to easily practice social distancing.
Aron is also being cautious in how she handles the candies this year. “I am doing treat bags in place of just having everything out in a bowl,” she says.
“So, the candies that I purchase, I will be putting in individual baggies and sealing them up. There will be a table with them spread out so they all won’t be in the same bowl.”
Bridget, owner of Especially Bridget’s Handcrafted Gifts in the Village on High, in Millville, normally has a candy scavenger hunt for children. She too has found an alternate way to bring some joy to her Halloween-loving visitors.
“I got pencils and erasers to give to the kids that come through,” says Bridget. “And I plan on handing them out all month.”
Bridget, whose Halloween-themed pencils and erasers have monster tops and Halloween designs, gave a thoughtful response to why she’s giving out these items to children this year. “Because parents can sanitize them,” she says.
Although the number of community Halloween events has been slashed like a teenage camp counselor on Friday the 13th, there are still some boo-tiful events taking place in Cumberland County.
For a list of local Halloween events, visit the community calendar section at snjtodaynewspaper.com.
Alternative Halloween Ideas
Examples of socially distant Halloween activities that would require minimal or no additional health and safety protocols include:
• Virtual activities such as online costume parties.
• Drive-through events where individuals remain in their vehicles and drive through an area/neighborhood with Halloween displays.
• Carving pumpkins with family.
• Dressing up homes and yards. with Halloween themed decorations.
• Halloween-themed movie nights with family.