It may have scared off other holidays and traditions this year, but COVID-19 will not spook the night of ghosts and goblins in Fulton County.
Halloween appears to be a go in all local communities on Saturday, Oct. 31, although administrators are cautioning Fright Night revelers to obey Gov. Mike DeWine’s coronavirus restrictions as they travel outdoors. Social distancing and masks are still in play.
One part of the traditional portion of the evening being canceled by communities and entities where it’s usually held is a traditional children’s party after trick-or-treating. Spokespersons across Fulton County said they’re simply considered too risky in the current environment.
The Ohio Department of Health recommends following these steps for safe trick-or-treating:
• Limit the number of houses your children visit, and have them stay as far from those giving treats as possible.
• Wipe candy wrappers with sanitizing wipes after returning home. Don’t wipe unpackaged food. Allow children to eat only factory-wrapped treats; avoid homemade goodies.
• Homeowners should determine ways to ensure six-foot social distancing, how candy can most safely be distributed, and the need for face coverings.
• Homeowners should not have children choose treats from a bowl or common container, and may consider setting up a hand sanitizer station. ODH suggests putting treats on porch steps or on a table in the driveway with a sign instructing children to take just one treat. Other creative methods include making a candy “slide” from PVC pipe or hanging treats on a wall or fence.
The City of Wauseon will hold trick-or-treating from 6-7:30 p.m. Public Service Director Keith Torbet advised children and their guardians to be vigilant of traffic, wear brightly-colored clothing, and follow normal Halloween procedures.
“We’re also asking people to follow the governor’s guidelines – keep your social distancing,” he said. Torbet said unless a new edict comes down from the state before the scheduled date, “right now, we’re going ahead with it.”
Unfortunately, the city fire department will not hold its usual cider and doughnuts event after trick-or-treating; instead, fire personnel will be on the street handing out candy.
Delta Village Council voted Monday to proceed with trick-or-treating between 5:30-7 p.m. Mayor Bob Gilbert said he trusts residents will adhere to the governor’s orders.
“We suggested that anybody who has kids going out follow the state guidelines,” he said. “We feel that people can be responsible enough to take on the precautions that they should. As long as (residents) are comfortable with it, we’re comfortable with it.”
But the fate of village-wide Halloween celebrations traditionally held by the Delta American Legion on State Highway 109 and the Delta Eagles on West Main Street is still up in the air. “We have no clue whether we’re having it or not, what with all the restrictions. We’re still trying to decide,” a Legion spokesperson said. A Delta Eagles spokesperson said the issue will be discussed.
Village of Archbold Administrator Donna Dettling said trick-or-treating is scheduled from 6-7:30 p.m.
“We followed Governor DeWine’s guidance from Sept. 17, encouraging parents and children to wear masks, practice social distancing, avoid large groups, and stay home if sick,” she said.
A village social media Halloween release included the state’s Recommended Best Practices bulletin.
Sue Clendenin, fiscal officer for the Village of Metamora, said trick-or-treating will go forward from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Barring a last-minute cancellation by the state, the village council decided to leave it up to parents and homeowners whether to participate.
“Reviewing some of the COVID restrictions from Governor DeWine, it looks like we can,” Clendenin said. “For now, it’s on. But you never know.”
One thing missing from the evening will be the annual Halloween party held at the Metamora fire station. Clendenin has been involved with throwing the monster bash for kids for more than 10 years. The event usually attracts 150-200 people.
“I don’t know how I ever would have done it. There’s no way I could have social-distanced,” she said. “The kids enjoy it. Gave them a little break to sit, rest their feet, have a hot dog.”
Fayette will welcome costumed tykes on the streets from 6-7:30 p.m. A village spokesperson said the village council decided to let trick-or-treating proceed.
Fulton County Health Commissioner Kim Cupp advised that anyone with symptoms of illness should not participate in Halloween activities, whether trick-or-treating or giving out candy. Those who can participate should maintain a six-foot distance and, if possible, travel in family groups. Cupp also encouraged homeowners to find creative ways to provide treats without contact.
She said safe trick-or-treating is possible but “it really depends on the people and how they choose to participate safely. If the residents go about it in a safe manner, then it can be done.”
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010