Halloween might look a little different this year, but there will still be plenty of tricks and treats for Falmouth residents.
“We’re leaving it to people to make the smart decisions,” Falmouth Select Board chairwoman Megan E. English Braga said. “The basic idea is we are really in a challenging time, but we want to find ways to celebrate milestones throughout the year, especially those related to children. I believe we can do so responsibly.”
Trick-or-treating is not canceled, though town administrators recommend the activity occur between 6 and 8 PM on Halloween.
“It is not forbidding any Halloween activities,” she said, referring to state guidelines, “but recommends limiting those hours, similar to what we’ve done in prior years.
“There is always a window the town asks for trick-or-treating to happen, and it is usually from 6 to 8 PM.”
Working with Health Agent Scott McGann, Police Chief Edward A. Dunne, Fire Chief Timothy R. Smith and Assistant Town Manager Peter Johnson-Staub, Town Manager Julian M. Suso posted a list of “Trick-or-Treating Do’s and Don’ts” on the town’s website.
“We’ve begun to get questions, predictably, and wanted to get information out a few weeks ahead of the actual holiday,” Mr. Suso said. “The thought was do’s and don’ts would be most helpful.”
Mr. McGann said the do’s and don’ts reflect state guidelines for the Halloween holiday.
“[Trick-or-treating] is an outdoor activity, and we know outdoors allow for reasonable safe activity,” he said. “The activity of going door to door is pretty safe.”
The do’s remind residents to continue social distancing and wear a face mask or face covering when out and about.
“The mask you get from the store for your costume isn’t really a mask, but a decoration,” Mr. McGann said.
Given the nature of the holiday, Ms. English Braga said a face mask could be used to accentuate a costume.
“There may be some fun ways to incorporate that mask into your child’s costume,” she said.
Trick-or-treating should remain outdoors. Mr. McGann advised trick-or-treaters from entering someone’s house.
“We’re suggesting that there be a grab-and-go approach on the outside of the house, perhaps at the porch or entry steps,” Mr. Suso said, recommending individually wrapped treats placed on a platter, rather than a bowl, outside the home.
If an indoor event is to occur, he reminds residents to observe state guidelines on gatherings. Governor Charles D. Baker Jr.’s September 29 order sets a limit of 25 people on all indoor gatherings, as well as a limit of 50 people at outdoor gatherings at a private residence.
“We’re relying on responsible adults to take the lead and continue to do the right thing,” Mr. Suso said. “The holiday is really no different. [These guidelines] are a way to give people some thoughtful suggestions to protect their health and the health of the young people. There is nothing in our current situation to prohibit trick-or-treating, if it is done properly.”
The guidelines advise against bobbing for apples, attending indoor haunted houses, going on a hayride or tractor ride with people from outside your household, and attending any parties that exceed the recommended gathering limits.
“The way to do this is to keep with the social distancing, avoid large gatherings and indoor gatherings,” Mr. McGann said. “I think the biggest thing is avoiding the Halloween parties. This isn’t a good year to hold those indoor parties with 20 kids.”
As an alternative, the guidelines recommend decorating the yard, celebrating the holiday with the family by hosting a Halloween meal, movie night or scavenger hunt, or holding a virtual pumpkin carving or costume contest.
One costume contest is being hosted by the Falmouth Dog Park. The dog park traditionally hosts a “Howlin’ Good Time” every October.
“Obviously, this year, we can’t do it in person, so we are having an at-home edition,” said Barbara P. Schneider, president of Falmouth Dog Parks Inc.
Dog owners are encouraged to take a picture of their pooch dressed in a costume or in a Halloween setting. Photos can be submitted to email@example.com through Saturday, October 24. Pictures will be shared on the Falmouth Dog Park’s website, as well as on its Facebook and Instagram pages. People can vote for their favorite picture starting Sunday, October 25, with the winner being announced on Halloween.
“We’re hoping to see people get creative and come up with some unique photos,” Ms. Schneider said. “We’ve seen one dog in a bike basket, dressed up as E.T., with a blanket around his head.”
People will also be able to vote in the Falmouth Village Association’s annual Village of Scarecrows. Businesses will hand-decorate scarecrows, which will stand guard throughout downtown Falmouth.
“The idea is to make the town as attractive as we can, in terms of decoration and making it as festive as possible,” said Tom von Zabern, president of the Falmouth Village Association board of directors.
The Village of Scarecrows is often paired with the Jazz Stroll, in which jazz musicians perform at various downtown businesses. While the Jazz Stroll will not occur in its traditional format this year, ArtsFalmouth will host a Virtual Jazztober Fest.
Seven concerts, featuring the Jim Robitaille Trio, the Andrew Sexton Trio, Trish Adams and Paul McWilliams, the Bill Taylor Quartet, Pat Ryan and Laird Boles, the Dawna Hammers Band and the Russ Wilcox Band, will be broadcast on Falmouth Community Television and YouTube.
“The Jazz Stroll is one of our most popular events, and we wanted to continue to bring fine jazz to local audiences and to support musicians, many of whom have not had a paying gig since March,” said Lee Geishecker, president of ArtsFalmouth.
The Falmouth Museums on the Green annual haunted Halloween event is also changing due to the coronavirus. While visitors traditionally get “A Visit with the Night Watchman,” this year marks “The Watchman’s Night Off.”
“With the watchman having the night off, you never know what will get out and haunt our front yard,” said Tamsen George, president of the Falmouth Historical Society board of directors.
While the historic houses will be closed, the Museums on the Green campus will be decorated with pumpkins, both carved and uncarved. Visitors will be able to walk around a marked path, perhaps encountering some spectral visitors along the way. Social distancing and masks will be required.
“It is as simple as we can make it, but we wanted to do something to mark Halloween,” Ms. George said. “This is a recognition of the holiday, because we’ve been doing Halloween at the museum for as long as I’ve been here, 12 years.”
Those interested in entering their carved or decorated pumpkin can bring it to the Hallett Barn Visitor Center on Palmer Avenue on Thursday, October 29, from 4 to 6 PM, or the next day from 9 to 11 AM. All participants will be entered into a raffle to win a $20 gift certificate from Eight Cousins Books.
Other events are not happening at all. A yearly tradition since 2008, the Cape Cod Church in East Falmouth will not host its annual Trunk or Treat.
“Due to the pandemic, we feel it is in the best interest of the community not to have Trunk or Treat this year,” organizer Amy Gaudreault said. “We’re a little disappointed, as it’s something our church really looks forward to, but the CDC identified traditional trunk or treat events as high risk, and we could not see any changes that would be logistically practical while keeping it safe and fun for the families.”
The event attracts 2,000 to 3,000 people annually. However, when Halloween falls on Saturday, as it does this year, that number can reach 5,000 trunk-or-treaters.
“We appreciate the community and all its support of this event and look forward to hosting it again next year,” Ms. Gaudreault said.
Noting the difficulty of holding programming during the COVID-19 pandemic, Recreation Director Joseph E. Olenick said the town does not have any plans for Halloween activities this year.