In the spirit of Halloween: celebrating a social distancing holiday

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Udita

With Halloween right around the corner, Halloween businesses and events revisit plans for opening this year.

Mahika Arya, Web Manager

October may include carving pumpkins, dressing up and spooky stories, but this time of the year is really known for celebration, energy, and spending time with the people we care about. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the US, Halloween celebrations and businesses are being forced to step back and consider how to participate in the holiday while keeping people safe.

On a corporate level, candy companies are predicting a huge decrease in sales, simply because fewer people will participate in large-scale trick-or-treating, and have been preparing alternative production. Hershey’s CEO, Michele Buck, said the company was banking on “candy-bowl” sales — self-consumption of their products — and the fact that COVID-19 hasn’t been proven to be transferred via packaging to keep sales up through the rest of the year.

“…We shifted some of our portfolio to more everyday packaging to protect the downside, should Halloween sales be a little lighter, to really manage that liability,” Buck said in a quarterly Q&A session in July.

However, while large corporations like Hershey’s have the money and consumers to rely upon beyond the Halloween season, businesses relying on the person-to-person interactions of the season’s celebrations face confusion.

Stores such as Spirit Halloween and Party City plan on keeping business running while following the CDC social distancing guidelines, but will add limitations to this year’s Halloween shopping.

Party City is planning on opening only 10% of their national Halloween pop-up stores – a meager 25. The company is predicting revenue losses, has decided to close dressing rooms in stores, and suggests for families to shop early due to costume manufacturing decreases. Meanwhile, Spirit Halloween will keep their decor business but shift their focus to distanced events, such as video parties and family dinners.

“While everything was and is still being canceled, we found that people will still want to celebrate and we quickly adapted and evolved our business to help families thrive in this environment,” Party City CEO Brad Weston said in a conversation with Fox Business. “Halloween is going to happen, it’s just going to look different.”

Aside from celebration-centered businesses, local events face difficult decisions on how to open, if at all.

Pirates of Emerson, one of the biggest local haunted Halloween events, has changed the attraction to follow social distancing guidelines. Instead of having walk-through mazes, haunted houses and more, the event will be done via drive-through scares.

In our community, haunted celebrations and get-togethers are central to the neighborhood feel of Halloween. Trick-or-treating, a staple of Halloween, is being advised against in Contra Costa County, though it is not outright banned.

Family events have also played a major role in creating a Halloween atmosphere in years past. DVHS freshman Owen Mimnaugh has put up a haunted tunnel in his neighborhood for the past five or six years, but this year, plans are looking slightly different.

“We don’t want to contribute to the spread of COVID-19,” Mimnaugh said. “It’s not the first year we haven’t been able to do it, but whenever we aren’t able to do the tunnel a certain year, we always make sure to make it bigger and better the next year.”

Mimnaugh hopes that the pandemic will calm down by next year in order to carry out this family celebration in a bigger fashion than before.

“We’re disappointed in this decision too, but when something bad happens in the world, we always come back stronger,” he said.