How to Celebrate Halloween During the Pandemic

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Alice Dreger for ELi

A young East Lansing resident examines the pumpkins and gourds at the Farmers' Market in 2017.

Halloween will still be celebrated in East Lansing this year, but it will look different.The CDC categorizes traditional trick-or-treating, in which children go door-to-door and receive candy, as one of the higher risk ways of celebrating Halloween. As such, both the City and the CDC recommend alternatives to traditional trick-or-treating, with additional safety measures to ensure social distancing. 

Usually, the City would sponsor the Great Pumpkin Walk, but instead, the Downtown Management Board has announced the Great Pumpkin Photo Contest for this year. Community members are encouraged to submit up to five photos of themselves and their families or pets with a pumpkin. Prizes include prepaid Visa gift cards and parking vouchers. For more information, visit the City’s website.

The City of East Lansing is suggesting several “alternative Halloween” activities, such as virtual Halloween parties. Any in-person parties should be limited to under ten people, and they should be arranged so different households can stay six feet apart. Outdoor gatherings must be limited to 25, and must be arranged in a similar fashion.

The City has also released holiday-specific safety tips and recommendations. These also follow guidelines and tips from both the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services as well as the Ingham County Health Department.

First and foremost, those guidelines say, stay home and refrain from passing out candy or trick-or-treating if you are showing symptoms or test positive.

The City encourages parents to educate their children about proper social distancing and mask usage, as well as any additional expectations parents may have before they begin trick-or-treating. Children should also avoid trick-or-treating with people outside of their household and stay away from other groups. To make distancing easier, both the CDC and City recommend one way trick-or-treating, with everyone keeping to the right side of the street as they walk.

In addition, the usual face masks are recommended for everyone, whether receiving or passing out candy. According to the CDC, costume masks are not adequate replacements for cloth masks that carefully cover the nose and mouth. If wearing both a costume mask and a cloth mask makes it difficult to breathe, the CDC recommends wearing a Halloween-themed cloth mask. 

Homeowners are also encouraged to take safety precautions. Taping lines every six feet leading to where the candy is being distributed can help trick-or-treaters maintain proper distance. 

Those giving out candy should do so outside and use a candy distribution table to ensure proper distancing. Guidelines also say that if homeowners choose to do this, they should disinfect all surfaces, and that if no safety measures appear to be in place, trick-or-treaters should stay away.

As always, people who don’t want to participate in candy distribution should keep their front-door lights off. 

For more information on alternative activity ideas, visit the CDC’s website, or

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