Werewolves, witches and ghosts will wear face masks under a blue full moon that will lighten the sky this Halloween night: the first full moon on Halloween night, according to the Farmers’ Almanac, since 1944.
COVID-19 has not legally canceled Halloween in Massachusetts but like most things during this pandemic, the holiday will not be its usual hurrah.
On October 7, the state Department of Public Health issued guidance for those who plan to participate in Halloween festivities.
The state is advising that residents follow the usual COVID-19 safety precautions (wear a mask, social distance, observe good hand hygiene and do not go out if you are feeling sick). The state further advises leaving candy outside for trick-or-treaters to “grab and go,” having gatherings outside as opposed to inside and wearing an additional face mask because a costume mask is not a substitute.
Indoor gatherings should be limited to 25 people. Outdoor gatherings should be limited to 50 people.
Local boards of health and the towns have issued similar statements to residents on the Upper Cape.
People planning Halloween events and activities in Bourne are asked to be mindful of the state’s COVID-19 guidelines when it comes to gathering limits, distancing, masking and hand hygiene.
The board of selectmen issued a statement on Wednesday, October 14, stating that gatherings are limited to 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors—though the board would prefer that those events not take place this year.
Trick-or-treating is not prohibited.
“The Town of Bourne also encourages residents to engage in ‘one-way trick-or-treating,’ meaning that you leave candy in a bowl or spread on a table outside your door,” the statement said.
Residents are encouraged to wave at costumed children from a distance as they collect their treats.
Those not wishing to receive trick-or-treaters this year are asked to keep their porch and front-entrance lights off on Halloween night or to post a sign stating that they are not participating.
“Halloween should be a safe and fun event, and these instructions are the guideline that we ask our residents to follow to promote a safe holiday celebration for everyone,” the statement said. “Thank you for your cooperation, and we wish you a safe and happy Halloween!”
The night before Halloween, a “6 Feet Trunk or Treat” event will be held for Bourne residents at the town’s Department of Public Works building on Ernest Valeri Road. The event will run from 5 to 6 PM and will be held in a drive-thru format.
Children will receive prebagged treats handed out by the Bourne Recreation Department.
“We’re leaving it to people to make the smart decisions,” 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 in Falmouth, though town administrators recommend the activity occur between 6 and 8 PM on Halloween.
“It is not forbidding any Halloween activities but recommends limiting those hours, similar to what we’ve done in prior years,” Ms. English Braga said. “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.”
The do’s remind residents to continue social distancing and wear a face mask or face covering when out and about. While masks have long been associated with Halloween, Mr. Suso said a costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth face covering. 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.
“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.
The board of selectmen has taken no position on Halloween.
Selectman Andrew R. Gottlieb said he does not believe the town has the legal authority to enforce any rules related to trick-or-treating but added, “I’m not encouraging it.”
Mashpee Health Agent Glen E. Harrington has said the board of health will not be releasing an additional statement regarding Halloween and recommends that Mashpee residents follow the state guidelines.
As in previous years, the Mashpee Public Schools will not do anything for Halloween.
“We will, of course, encourage safe choices if students are going to go out and trick-or-treat,” Superintendent Patricia M. DeBoer said.
Ms. DeBoer said the school has shared the Mashpee Recreation Department’s flyer with students’ families about an event planned for Quashnet Elementary School on Sunday, October 25.
The recreation department will host a drive-thru event at the school from 2 to 3:30 PM for Mashpee children ages 2 to 12.
“The goodie bags will be filled with peanut-free candy, and 20 random bags will have a special Jack-O’-Lantern Jackpot voucher, redeemable at Mashpee Recreation Department for a special treat,” Assistant Recreation Director Heidi McLaughlin said.
The Cape Cod Boys and Girls Club will also host a similar drive-thru event with a free goodie bag on Friday, October 30, from 4 to 6 PM.
But the large pumpkin patch hosted annually by the Mashpee Congregational Church in front of the Mashpee Police Station will not be happening this year.
“We did not do the pumpkin patch this year, as we decided to err on the side of caution due to the pandemic,” said Kara Chase, the administrative assistant at the church.
For adults who want a Halloween night out, Cape Cod Coffee on Route 130 is hosting a “Halloweekend” on Friday, October 30, from 5:30 to 8 PM and Saturday, October 31, from 3:30 to 5 PM and 5:30 to 8 PM.
Brian Sances will perform on Friday; the musicians are to be announced for Halloween night.
The board of health has released guidance on how to have a healthy Halloween this year. The information mirrors guidance provided by the state.
In addition to the standard distancing and masking guidelines, Health Agent David Mason said anyone who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or who has tested positive for the disease should refrain from participating in Halloween activities.
“If everyone follows the safety guidelines, Halloween can be a safe and fun experience,” Mr. Mason said. “Failure to follow safety guidelines while participating in Halloween may end up being ghoulish in 10 to 14 days.”
He asked that people observe the guidelines so that COVID-19 cases in town can remain low and will not impact the schools or the community.
While Sandwich is considered a low-risk community when it comes to the disease, Mr. Mason said the town continues to monitor cases daily. In the event that the town goes into a high-risk designation, the town’s COVID-19 team will reevaluate which events and activities will be able to occur.
Halloween events planned in Sandwich include the Sandwich Police Department’s Trunk-or-Treat on October 31 from 10 AM to 1 PM at Oakcrest Cove. This will be a drive-thru event, with the first 750 children receiving a bag of goodies.
Heritage Museums & Gardens, in partnership with the STEM Academy and the Sandwich High School Teacher Student Association, will hold a virtual trivia night on Saturday, October 24. The first event is from 5:30 to 6:30 PM and is geared toward families with children under age 13. The second event is from 7 to 8:30 PM and is geared toward adults and children over the age of 13.
Space is limited and information on how to register can be found at www.heritagemuseumsandgardens.org/event/halloweentrivia.