Halloween a mixed bag for Delaware communities

Delaware National Guard Pfc. Deon Perez drops a goodie in the bag for Jacob Perdue during the 2019 Trunk or Treat event in Millsboro. COVID is forcing some Halloween events in towns this year to be altered, modified and in some cases canceled. Delaware State News/Glenn Rolfe

Local municipalities are attempting to keep the “treat” in Halloween during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Mayor and council want the children of Laurel to have fun,” said John Shwed, mayor of the town of Laurel where events are planned on Oct. 24 and Oct. 31.

In Dover, children wearing masks will be seeking treats while haunting the streets on Halloween from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. City of Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen said the city asks that people participating in trick or treat turn their lights on and hand out pre-packaged candy.

Trick or treating in Milford, also from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 31, received city council’s unanimous approval last week.

Some town officials and mayors are awaiting direction from the state of Delaware and Gov. John Carney during the COVID-19 State of Emergency.

“We are awaiting Halloween guidance from the Department of Public Health and will review everything once they are issued,” said Georgetown Town Manager Eugene Dvornick.

Greenwood town council will address Halloween at its Oct. 14 meeting, according to Greenwood town Manager Hal Godwin.

The coronavirus crisis has played tricks on some Halloween staples.

Several marquee events — annual Seaford Halloween Parade, Dagsboro Volunteer Fire Department’s Trunk or Treat and Ocean View’s Cops & Goblins — have been canceled.

In many cases, the show is a go.

In Frankford, Envision Frankford has planned a double delight for Halloween, with drive-thru trick or treating from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 31 at the Frankford Volunteer Fire Company Station 76 parking lot, followed by a movie at 7 p.m. at Frankford Town Park. The movie will have a family-friendly Halloween theme, Envision Frankford spokesman Robbie Murray said.

Millsboro town officials and Millsboro Police Chief Brian Calloway are exploring options for Halloween, which traditionally has featured a huge public event facilitated by the police department at the Town Center parking lot. An alternative to adhere to current COVID guidelines might be a drive-thru event on Oct. 31.

In Dagsboro, plans are for traditional Trick or Treat, but not the community event staged at the Dagsboro Fire Station 73.

At the 2019 Trunk or Treat, Millsboro Police Officer Patrick Forester hands a sweet treat to 3-year-old Carson Whidbee as his mom, Ada Hazzard looks on.

“The fire company has already canceled their Trunk or Treat event that they normally have, because it normally has about 500 people,” Dagsboro Mayor Brian Baull announced during council’s Sept. 21 virtual meeting. “For everyone else it will be, if you want to participate. What we normally tell people is, ‘Turn your lights on.’ And obviously, social distancing; wear a mask.”

Ocean View Police Chief Ken McLaughlin said canceling Cops and Goblins was a difficult decision that had to be made.

“Sadly, we decided to cancel the Cops and Goblins event. The event is popular, and it would be impossible to meet the restrictions related to COVID-19,” said Chief McLaughlin. “As of now, Ocean View is discouraging trick or treating. Folks that do elect to participate are encouraged to follow state guidelines.”

In the City of Lewes, trick or treating will not be held this year.

“We have canceled trick or treating,” said Lewes City Manager Ann Marie Townshend. “The mayor and I discussed it and we just believe that is just not wise at this point. We’re very sensitive to the fact that the average age of our residents is over 65. We’re very conscious that we’ve got a population that is potentially at high risk.”

While Seaford’s Halloween Parade is canceled, Seaford city officials are planning to hold traditional Trick or Treat from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Oct. 31.

“It has been the discussion among mayors to the Governor the last two weeks with calls to him, but not a lot of direction. But at this point it is my intent that we will have a traditional Trick or Treat at the normal date and time,” said Seaford Mayor David Genshaw. “And the reason I’m in favor of doing it is that; most people wear masks for trick or treating. And, by definition, you’re social distancing because you are outside walking. But more importantly for me it’s a volunteer thing. So, if you don’t feel safe, don’t go trick or treating, and don’t turn your (porch) light on. The residents have complete control over the event. I don’t see why we would not do it.”

That’s the story in Laurel. There are plans for Oct. 31 trick or treat to be preceded by an event one week before, with state approval, Mayor Shwed said.

“For several years now, we have hosted another Halloween related event called Trunk or Treat, which is an activity where community groups and businesses set up displays and candy giveaways in the beds of their trucks or trunks in their SUV’s and cars,” Mayor Shwed said. “This event is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 24, a week before Trick or Treat night.”

Laurel Town Manager Jamie Smith is working with the state to gain approval to proceed. “We want the children and families in Laurel to have fun this Halloween season,” Mayor Shwed said.

In the town of Blades, trick or treating — at one’s one risk — is on Saturday, Oct. 31 at a time to be announced.

Other events

On Halloween, the Local Ladies of Long Neck will hold a Spooky Treat Halloween Drive-Thru to pick up a treat bag in parking lot at Long Neck Road & School Lane in Long Neck. This event will run from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

On Sunday, Nov. 1, American Legion Auxiliary Unit 28 will hold a Drive-Thru Trunk or Treat at Legion Post 28 on Legion Road.

This event, to be staged in the parking lot, will run from 6 to 8 p.m., with music and free bags of candy distributed by Auxiliary Unit 28 members. All participants must remain in their vehicles and walk-ups are not allowed.

On Friday, Oct. 30, The Shepherd’s Office at 408 N. Bedford St. in Georgetown will hold Christ, Community and Candy in Our Trunks — an event like Trunk or Treat but deviates from the typical scary Halloween themes.

“We already have enough of ‘scary stuff’ going on nowadays, so we want to instead re-focus on the love and kindness of Jesus Christ,” said Shepherd’s Office Director Jim Martin.

The outdoor event on Oct. 30 runs from 2 to 6 p.m. and is open to the members of our community to come with their kids.

Mr. Martin said people are invited to donate their trunk space and give out candy, other treats or fruit to the guests. Those planning to participate are asked to arrive at 1:30 p.m. to set up their parking spot on the lot at Shepherd’s Office.

Following Christ, Community and Candy, Shepherd’s Office will hold Bible Study from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Shepherd’s Office will also be giving out free grab & go dinners and free boxes of food.

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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