CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (NEWS10) — It’s that time of year again for costumes, candy, and mischief, but local leaders say at first they were worried Halloween was too high risk to continue through the coronavirus pandemic.
“There’s a lot a contact when you think about Halloween. Typically we know kids like to go out on Halloween with her friends and gather, especially the older kids gathering in groups,” explains Colonie Town Supervisor Paula Mahan.
Fortunately, Governor Cuomo’s office gave the green light for trick or treating Wednesday — of course with restrictions. Capital Region cities and towns immediately got to work putting their plans into action.
Albany’s Department of Recreation plans to set up the 11 city parks like haunted drive throughs to replace the usual community center events. Volunteers will be stationed at specific entrances from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, October 31. You’ll be able to pick up a bag of candy, a pumpkin to carve, and dental supplies from volunteers. That way you can have fun and celebrate at home.
“In Albany we have a long tradition of neighborhood trick-or-treating and this year we’re not going to be able to do that, it’s been discouraged, but this is an opportunity for our city to keep the tradition alive,” says Department of Recreation Commissioner Jonathan Jones in a phone interview with NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton.
Jones says the City of Albany has been working on the possibility of a low-contact Halloween event, but just needed the governor’s all-clear and the latest CDC guidance to press forward.
Johnstown, Gloversville, and Amsterdam all announced at the beginning of October trick-or-treating is on as long as you social distance and take caution to limit contact when you take your candy. Johnstown Mayor Vernon Jackson says it was a sigh of relief that Governor Cuomo decided to allow the tradition.
“I was relieved to see that he left it to our discretion, and that’s exactly what I needed to hear. Trick-or-treating had been brought up at a common council meeting, and I said I wanted to do it, provided the governor didn’t state otherwise,” he says.
He also says downtown businesses will also give out candy during the day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to help limit crowds at night.
“As long as there’s a pumpkin on the door, they can go in and trick-or-treat there during the day and our regular hours are 6 to 8 PM on Saturday night,” explains Jackson.
Meanwhile, Mahan says the new guidelines will be included in letters Colonie Police will send home with every school district child, full of do’s and don’ts. She also says officers will patrol, less to police the coronavirus guidelines and more to be sure everyone is staying safe.
“We are really depending on parents to do the monitoring, obviously our patrols will be out there, they always are. They like to see the kids and interact with the kids,” Mahan says.
These town leaders say they’re glad Cuomo’s guidelines ultimately leave the decision on Halloween celebrations up to each community. They say they feel like kids have already missed out on enough this year.
“For me, it’s a hope that we can put joy and smiles on our kids and families faces. There’s a lot of young people, there’s a lot of families that have been dealing with the mental strain with COVID-19 as well as the financial downturn,” says Jones.
“The kids have really suffered this year with the pandemic. Not being able to do a lot of activities over the summer, and trick-or-treating is fun,” says Mayor Jackson.
They also hope to steer neighbors away from the temptation of Halloween parties. Jones says Albany hopes to avoid another spike in COVID cases, similar to those around the 4th of July.
“This is not the year. I know everyone’s been eager to celebrate together, but this year we need to have some discipline, stay safe, and then hopefully next year, we can get back to the traditions of old,” he says.’
Here are some at home Halloween suggestions from Governor Cuomo’s latest guidance: