With 2020 still in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans are looking at Halloween a little differently this year. While the City of Wheeling has announced plans to allow Trick-or-Treat with some advised precautions, some parents are still making alternate plans in an effort to balance safety with holiday fun.
Wheeling resident and mom of three Olivia Litman says that her family is taking advantage of more outdoor Halloween events this year. She and her children attended socially distanced events like “Halloween Hikes” at Oglebay Institute’s Schrader Center, as well as “Boo at the Zoo” at The Good Zoo. And while the family still plans on doing a modified Trick-or-Treat on Saturday, Litman says she’s prepared in the event of a last-minute cancellation.
“I decorated a little more this year and have been picking up candy and stashing in case we don’t go [Trick-or-Treating],” Litman said. “I anticipate all holidays looking a little different, and I’m trying to make sure that memories are being made regardless of how we are doing them.”
Residents of Oak Park Avenue in Wheeling are starting a new tradition this year with a closed street party. More than ten houses on the street plan to decorate their walkways and hold socially distanced driveway parties with games, spooky music and food and drinks. Elderly residents or those who are uncomfortable socializing in groups are invited to enjoy the party from their porches.
Resident Carly Seals says she and her two children, AJ, 13, and Brennan, 8, are disappointed to not have a “normal” Trick-or-Treat but are looking forward to the street party. She and her husband, Andy, are trying to keep spirits up by involving the kids in the party preparation.
“My 8-year-old is really sad that he doesn’t get to do our normal trick or treating routine with friends this year, so we’re trying to make the street party super-fun, and maybe it will become our new tradition,” Seals said. “Brennan and AJ are excited about helping me make candied apples for the party.”
Parents are not the only ones getting creative plans for Halloween 2020. Local non-profits and social organizations are coming up with COVID-safe plans for events and fundraisers. One such organization, Men of Change, is hosting its “Treat and Eat” event this Saturday. Men of Change member Hayden Cook says the event was born from an idea to do a meal giveaway and fill a void left by the cancellation of the Nelson Jordan Center’s annual Halloween party.
“Rod Lee is a member, and also he’s the Facility Coordinator of the Nelson Jordan Center. They typically have a Halloween Party, but, because of COVID restrictions, they are unable to,” Cook said. “We thought it would be a good idea to have this “Treat and Eat” where we could provide a meal to local families along with candy since it is Halloween.”
The event is open to everyone and will take place from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. at the corner of 15th and Jacob Streets. All event workers will be wearing masks and social distancing precautions will be in place, as attendees will not have to leave their cars. Costumes are also welcome.
• Wheeling native Jennifer Materkoski is a graduate of West Liberty University and Kent State University, where she earned a master’s degree in journalism and mass communications. Before beginning her current role as director of communications and employee engagement for a global business process outsourcing firm, Jennifer worked in local media and non-profit communications. She is a current board member of Generation Wheeling, also chairing the organization’s Work Committee. She lives in Wheeling with her husband, Rich, and her three children: Mason, Mercer and Miller.