Evolving holiday traditions: COVID-19 spooks students into changing Halloween plans

Evolving+holiday+traditions%3A+COVID-19+spooks+students+into+changing+Halloween+plans

Graphic by Molly Gold '21

Natalie Bandura ’22, Paper News Editor and Audrey Kercher ’23, Staff Writer

Every year when Halloween rolls around, kids and teens alike gear up in an assortment of costumes, and some flaunt spooky masks to scare their friends. This year, given the coronavirus, Westporters have a bit more to be “spooked” about, and unmasked citizenry have become more alarming than those dressed up for a masquerade.

Trick-or-treating this year in Westport is classified as a high risk activity, and all people are encouraged to take the proper precautions if they wish to engage in it. According to the Connecticut State Department of Health, people from different households must stay six feet apart, masks are to be worn at all times and caution must be taken when handing out candy.

Although trick-or-treating is a classic Halloween pastime, this year, many people are finding alternate activities.

One Westport parent of two, Tatiana Jitkova, believes it isn’t safe to allow her kids to trick-or-treat, but would instead prefer that they stay home and pursue alternative Halloween activities.

“This year, my family and I will be probably staying home and watching a Halloween movie,” Jitkova said. “While walking on a street might be relatively safe, I personally don’t want my kids touching any candy that’s been touched by other people.”

Although trick-or-treating is a classic Halloween pastime, this year, many students are finding alternate activities.

“I don’t know if we should do trick-or-treating per se,” Zachary Bishop ’22 said. “But if you wanna, like, walk outside for a few hours under the full moon without having to worry about sleep because it’s daylight savings time and tomorrow’s a Sunday, I mean, that’s a pretty good atmosphere.”

“But if you wanna, like, walk outside for a few hours under the full moon without having to worry about sleep because it’s daylight savings time and tomorrow’s a Sunday, I mean, that’s a pretty good atmosphere,”

— Zachary Bishop ’22

While Bishop himself plans to celebrate the holiday by hosting a “party of two,” some of his neighbors are trying to retain the holiday spirit by placing bins of candy outside their front porches so that the younger kids on their street can still have the trick-or-treating experience.

“It’s safe because they’re gonna space out the bins and each kid is going to go to one bin at a time,” Bishop said. “There’s a lot less social interaction. The pandemic has definitely changed things, but given the circumstances I think it’s a good idea.”

 Others, like Jacob Friedman ’22, have decided to use the pandemic as an opportunity to find a new and creative way to celebrate.

In the past, Friedman has attended a Halloween potluck at his friend’s house every year up until now.

 “We would all be sharing food,” Friedman said. “And, uh, that would violate multiple state laws probably at this point, and I have no intention of becoming a felon.”

So this year, there was a change of plans to meet up with friends at a local graveyard.

“A) it’s spooky; B) it’s where we normally meet up anyways; and C) it’s, like, outdoors and easily socially distanced,” Friedman said, describing the graveyard near the Merritt Country store.

Although it will take a bit of sacrifice on behalf of their typical Halloween traditions, Friedman urges his fellow students to forego large Halloween gatherings in order to help the nation recover from this pandemic sooner.

“I think a lot of the reason we’re still at this point is because people didn’t want to take the necessary steps in the beginning,” Friedman said. “The longer we go on trying to do things like have massive Halloween parties, then maybe when Christmas comes around, when St. Patrick’s Day comes around, we won’t be able to have parties, then, either.”