Six Feet Under or Six Feet Apart? Halloween Traditions Give Way to Precaution

Lucy Samuels, Staff Writer

The following article is part of a series on how students are celebrating Halloween in 2020. For more articles on the topic, click here.

As if 2020 could not get any scarier, Halloween is just around the corner. This year, it is clear Halloween will look marginally different from usual: instead of dressing up, many students will be swapping costume masks for a different, safer kind of mask, which could shape the usually upbeat holiday into something more sobering.

Unfortunately, many Halloween activities are deemed “high risk” by the CDC, including Chamblee’s 2019 trunk or treat tradition. For a holiday that relies mostly on social interaction, it is apparent that this Halloween could be tricky to navigate. Despite this, students are traversing their way through the cobwebs and dark halls of Halloween 2020 as best they can.

In spite of the restrictions that COVID-19 brings, some students, like junior Olivia Rosario, still plan to enjoy Halloween—all while continuing to follow social distancing procedures.

“Now [that] I’m not going to see anybody basically, we are going to walk around the neighborhood still but just to see Halloween decorations and everything [and] say ‘hi’ to people, but we won’t be getting candy,” said Rosario.

With candy distribution, there are plenty of opportunities for COVID-19 transmission. Despite this, Halloween enthusiasts are finding ways to combat this problem—including Rosario’s neighbor.

“I know some neighbors are trying to figure out a way to still hand out candy while being socially distanced,” Rosario said. “One of my neighbors is building a tube so that they can shoot candy down.”

Another junior, Madaline Quirk, will attempt to hand out candy this year while being as cautious as possible. However, Quirk is still skeptical of partaking in typical Halloween traditions.

“I just don’t think we will be doing Halloween,” Quirk said. “We might hand out candy to kids… or throw it to them and tell them to stay away from the door. I might put on a costume to answer the door for the kids, but other than that, I don’t think we’ll be doing very much.”

Senior Ray Garcia agrees that trick-or-treating should be limited.

“I really don’t think that [giving out candy] is a good idea,” said Garcia. “Even if you leave it out after you tried to clean it, […] I don’t think it would work out. You can still transmit it through touching it and leaving it out. Especially with all the kids [being close together]. I don’t think they would actually want to wear the mask the whole time or social distance. Even when I go to the grocery store, people don’t really care about social distancing.”

The COVID-19 death toll is the crux of the problems the US is having as a nation, and with the holidays coming up, cases, according to the CDC, are likely to risesomething students seem to recognize.

“I’m the most concerned about spiking cases because right now we’re basically at the point where it’s 100 cases in our county, so we technically go back to school next week,” said senior Courtney Combs. “But every holiday, like even Labor Day, they saw a spike [in cases], and Halloween is one of the biggest holidays for people to go out.” 

In previous years, Halloween traditions were held on a community-wide scale, spanning multiple neighborhoods and regions of DeKalb. Many Chamblee students would often throw large parties, while others would scour their neighborhoods for candy. 

“We’ve had a Halloween party for two years. Usually, on a Halloween night, someone sits at the door and hands out candy. Sometimes, we run around to the houses with the best candy and grab chocolate bars.” said Quirk. 

This year, Quirk’s party has been canceled. Combs, who also hosts Halloween parties, is also expecting a change of plan. 

“I probably won’t be going out just because it’s definitely not going to be the safest place to be if there are people out. I might just have a couple people over and watch some movies. Like two people max.” she said. “I wanted to go to Netherworld [a haunted house] but I don’t know if that would be the best idea because they’re doing protocols, but they’re selling out tickets so quickly, and you still have to go with a group.”

But is a Halloween still the same without apple bobbing or huddling on a couch to watch a horror movie? According to students, no. Nonetheless, students maintain that even masks and social distancing would not be able to dampen the spirit of the holiday.

“I don’t think it would ‘dampen the spirit,’ but I don’t think people would abide by [social distancing],” said Garcia

The virus may not stop the celebration, but another leading conflict in America might. As the countdown to the election begins, so does the patience of students with the US’s political climate. Combs, in particular, is wary of how politics will intersect with Halloween this year.

“I think it will be interesting to see what people dress up as. In a political standpoint, I think that there’s going to be a lot of people who are going to do very racist things,” she said. “Now is the most important time to not be wearing anything offensive whatsoever, and I think that people who already believe in holidays like Columbus Day are definitely going to take advantage of this Halloween and make a political standpoint. Like [someone might be thinking], ‘I support Trump, [so] I’m going to dress up as Donald Trump.’”

In spite of this, Garcia hopes that the current political mood will not completely detract from the Halloween spirit. 

“With the [presidential] debate and everything and how ignorant people are about the movements we’re trying to go through, I feel like a lot of things have been dampened,” said Garcia. “Just a lot of stuff is going on, but I don’t think it will completely ruin [Halloween]. But there’s a lot of things that have changedeither for the better or for the worse.”