Elaborate Halloween decorations, hundreds of children and adults in costumes and a “headless” man riding the street on a real horse — that’s been the scene for years on Glenwood Terrace in Anniston, a popular trick-or-treating neighborhood for families around northeast Alabama. But the COVID-19 pandemic might make Halloween look different this year.
In past years, Glenwood Terrace resident Carolyn Caffey Knapp looked forward to that scene. She typically would spend upward of $200 on Halloween candy, and would banter with the kids as they came to her house.
This year, however, she hopes no one comes at all. Given the pandemic, she fears the large crowds Halloween brings to her neighborhood would be too dangerous.
“It’s a super-spreader situation, as far as I’m concerned,” Knapp said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists trick-or-treating, trunk-or-treat gatherings, crowded parties and indoor haunted houses among the higher-risk activities for spreading the coronavirus during the holiday.
Knapp said she doubts many people in her neighborhood will do Halloween this year. On Monday, she said, many houses had fall decor, but few had actual Halloween decorations.
She said she donated the money she would have spent on Halloween candy to Interfaith Ministries in Anniston, and is posting a large sign at the end of her driveway to let passersby know there will be no treats this year.
“I don’t want people coming a long distance and being disappointed,” Knapp said.
Because of concerns about the pandemic, Anniston canceled its annual Neewollah celebration this year, City Manager Steven Folks said Tuesday. However, the city is planning at least three trunk-or-treat events outside City Hall, the Hodges Community Center and the Carver Community Center. Folks said the city plans to encourage attendees to wear masks and practice social distancing.
“We only can do what’s within the state’s mandate,” Folks said.
While trick-or-treating is not a city-sponsored event, Folks said, the city plans to lend residents barriers to block off streets for safety, as they have in the past.
Glenwood Terrace resident Bill Wakefield said he expects a much smaller crowd this year, but he still plans to hand out candy. Based on the decorations on his street, he said, it appeared only about half of the homes would be open for trick-or-treating.
“We’re going to do it as safely as we possibly can,” Wakefield said.
Wakefield said he acknowledged the virus was real and dangerous for certain people. But, he said, most of the kids would be wearing costume masks.
“You, me and everyone else have sacrificed so much in these past five or six months,” he said. “Anything we can do to make it a little more normal would be good.”