Life during the pandemic has been far from normal. Daily activities like school and grocery shopping have changed dramatically. Now the pandemic is also changing how residents celebrate Halloween.
While residents young and old can still dress up as their favorite avenger or scariest undead creature, the annual Ragamuffin parade is canceled.
The city prohibits street closures and block parties on Saturday, Oct. 31, postponing open streets scheduled for Oct.31, and strongly discouraging indoor parties.
The Hoboken Health Department advises those who host or attend a large indoor party, including children, to quarantine for a full 14 days after the event.
“As we enter October, I know that Halloween has been a topic of discussion among our residents and children,” said Mayor Ravi Bhalla in an email to constituents. “As with many other activities over the past seven months, the challenge is – how do we balance a day that has traditionally been a favorite of our children (and adults), with the fact that we remain in a pandemic? It is a topic that my family has been grappling with as well, especially with my two children.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines regarding trick-or-treating and trunk-or-treats, classifying them as high-risk activities given the challenges of social distancing.
Bhalla said he will not prohibit trick-or-treating. Children can still go door to door collecting sweets, but the mayor discouraged the tradition.
“I believe this is a choice parents and families will be making with the most up-to-date information on the pandemic and infection rates available that we provide on a weekly basis, among other factors,” Bhalla said. “However, taking into account the CDC’s recommendations, I am encouraging families and children to consider alternatives to trick-or-treating,”
Mayor as party planner
His suggestions included pumpkin carving and decorating, Halloween themed movie night, a Halloween themed scavenger hunt in the home, decorating the house for Halloween, a virtual costume contest with friends or relatives, or dressing in costume during school in coordination with the school.
He also issued recommendations for those families who do want to trick-or-treat, including wearing face masks that could be incorporated into a costume, trick or treating with household contacts only, and limiting trick-or-treating to a block or specific neighborhood.
He asked trick-or-treater to avoid areas where there are typically large crowds if they don’t live there.
He recommended that trick-or-treaters wait for others to leave a door or stoop before approaching themselves to maintain social distancing. He suggested that residents coordinate with neighbors on their blocks or in their buildings to host trick-or-treating during off-peak hours such as early in the morning on Saturday instead of in the evening.
Residents who do not want to recieve trick-or-treaters should turn off their lights and leave notes on their gates or doors.
The city will host Halloween-themed drive-in movies under the stars on Oct. 29, 30, and 31 at the Hoboken Business Center at 50 Harrison St. Cars should enter the lot on Harrison Street and exit on New York Avenue.
The time and selected movies will be released in the near future, according to the city.
The city will host a virtual costume contest for children. Photos of costumes will be submitted electronically to the city and winning costumes announced on or around Halloween on the city’s Facebook page.