Communities wrestle with trick-or-treat

SIDNEY — Following the issuance of guidance from the Office of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine concerning Halloween, the Shelby County mayors have been wrestling with how to follow that guidance and allow their little ghosts and goblins to safely observe Halloween.

The pandemic has caused most communities to pause, and take a look at how the event might be observed without spreading the virus door-to-door. The guidance issued by the Ohio Department of Health includes the cancellation of hayrides and haunted houses, that trunk-or-treat events be cancelled, and that Ohioans exercise caution when deciding to participate in trick-or-treating and events that put them in close contact with people outside their households.

“In working with the other municipalities in Shelby County,” Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst said, “it was clear that if we could schedule Halloween within our communities at a common time on a common date, it would help prevent children from traveling from community to community, helping to reduce the possibility of the spread of COVID-19.”

Barhorst has chaired the Shelby County Mayors Association since Anna Mayor Bob Anderson retired in 2015.

“Jackson Center is going to cancel Halloween as we know it from past years,” Jackson Center Mayor Scott Klopfenstein told Barhorst. “We are encouraging our citizens to take their children to family, friends and neighbors with whom they have a level of comfort. We feel this is the best approach to keep our children and citizens as safe as possible.”

The communities of Fort Loramie and Russia plan to have their trick-or-treat events on Oct. 29 from 6 until 7:30 p.m.

“We will follow state rules,” Fort Loramie Mayor Randy Ahlers told Barhorst.

While Anna Village Council decided to hold trick-or-treat on Halloween, they decided to have it between the hours of 1 and 3 p.m.

Kettlersville Mayor Eric Kaminsky advised Barhorst that Kettlersville Council would not decide when or if their celebration will be held until their council meets next week.

The communities of Botkins, Lockington, Port Jefferson and Sidney will all observe trick-or-treat on Oct. 31 from 4 until 6 p.m.

“Dusk is scheduled for 7:02 p.m., and it was our hope that those who participate this year would be able to do so during daylight hours making it easier to follow the guidance issued by the Ohio Department of Health,” Barhorst said.

That guidance includes considering safer, socially distant ways to celebrate, including:

• Preparing and then leaving treats for friends and neighbors at their homes;

• Decorating your home and hide treats for your own family as an alternative to trick-or-treating;

• Holding costume parties or pumpkin carving contests online;

• Limiting attendance at smaller parties to 10 or fewer people and holding the event in an outdoor area where social distancing is possible;

• Wearing a face covering and staying at least 6 feet away from people who are not from your household, whether trick-or-treating, passing out treats, or attending attractions or events;

• . Staying home if you are sick;

• Selecting events/attractions that are held outdoors and allow attendees to stay in their cars (such as drive-through event with displays) or socially distance. Avoid events that involve being crowded in a small area or coming into contact with/being touched by others.

• Carrying hand sanitizer and using it often, especially after coming into contact with frequently touched surfaces and before eating candy;

• Allowing children to eat only factory-wrapped treats;

• Avoiding homemade treats made by strangers; and,.

• Refraining from having children select their own treats from a bowl/common container.

There is a great deal of additional information available on the Ohio Department of Health website, including the suggestion that creative ways of distributing treats should be considered, including distributing treats using a candy slide made from PVC pipe, or hanging treats from a wall or fence.

“Finally, the mayors would encourage setting up a hand-sanitizing station wherever candy is distributed,” Barhorst said. “In addition, children under two years of age or individuals of any age who cannot easily remove a mask themselves should not be outfitted with masks. Although we could not reach agreement on holding trick-or-treat at a common time, we strongly encourage parents not to take their children from one community to another.

“All Shelby County mayors are in agreement that we want all children to be safe,” Barhorst saod. “Children are twice as likely to be killed in a traffic accident on Halloween than on any other day of the year. Pandemic or no pandemic, we just want everyone to be safe this Halloween!”