– In alignment with ongoing health and safety protocols to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 – which remains a highly infectious virus, with new cases popping up every day – the City of Pittsfield will not be hosting its annual Halloween parade and is strongly discouraging residents from participating in this year’s trick-or-treat, opting instead for safe and enjoyable low-risk festivities. For its part, the city will be sponsoring several virtual Halloween-themed contests.
Door-to-door trick or treating is included among the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list for higher risk activities that can spread the virus. Other high-risk activities include trunk-or-treat events which include the distribution of candy from cars in parking lots; indoor costume parties which may attract large crowds; indoor haunted houses where people may be crowded together and screaming; hayrides or tractor rides with people not in your household; and traveling to rural fall festivals outside of one’s community, which may be located in an area with community spread of COVID-19.
“The gains we have made as a community are a reflection of our consistent and shared commitment to keep ourselves and those around us safe. For this reason, we are strongly urging residents not to participate in trick-or-treat. Despite the risks, we understand that there will be residents and families who choose to participate in trick-or-treat,” said Mayor Linda Tyer. “For those who wish to carry on with this Halloween tradition, we are recommending a number of safety measures to minimize the risk to both themselves and to those around them.”
The hours of trick-or-treat will be 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 31. Those who don’t want to partake in the evening’s activities should turn off their porch light. This plan is subject to Pittsfield remaining low-risk (green or gray) on the state’s COVID-19 Community Data map. There is no rain or storm date. Maintaining adherence to standard COVID-19 recommendations in strongly encouraged including: (1) maintain at least six feet of social distancing; (2) avoid crowds and indoor activities with non-household members; (3) wear a COVID-compliant face mask; a Halloween costume mask is not COVID-compliant; (3) wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitizer.
Other Recommendations for Trick-or-Treat Safety
- Wash your hands before packaging single, grab-and-go candy packages.
- Set up candy stations in a manner that makes grab-and-go easy, quick, and limits interactions with non-household members.
- Do not use communal candy bowls and baskets.
- Trick-or-Treat with members of your household only.
- Please stay in your neighborhood.
- Keep moving. Do not congregate on streets, sidewalks or driveways.
- Wear a COVID-19 compliant face mask; be creative – decorate your COVID-19 compliant mask in a Halloween theme.
- A Halloween costume mask is NOT COVID-19 protective and is not a substitute for a cloth mask over the nose and mouth.
- Adults and children should NOT wear a COVID-19 mask and a Halloween costume mask together.
- Please do not allow your child to bring Halloween candy to school.
For those who plan to opt out of this year’s trick-or-treat, there are still plenty of ways to safely enjoy the Halloween. City residents are invited to enter the city’s virtual Halloween contests which includes three themes: Pumpkin Carving, Costumes, and Exterior Home Decorations, with selected categories for both adults and children. Submissions for each contest will be accepted now through Sunday, Oct. 25. Each winner will receive a cash prize and will be featured on the Pittsfield Parks and Recreation Facebook page on Friday, Oct. 30. For more information and contest rules, visit the Parks and Recreation page on the city’s website, www.cityofpittsfield.org.
For your information, this is the entirety of the CDC recommendations for Halloween activities:
- Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household and displaying them;
- Carving or decorating pumpkins outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends;
- Decorating your house, apartment, or living space;
- Doing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house admiring Halloween decorations at a distance;
- Having a Halloween movie night with people you live with; and
- Having a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home rather than going house to house.
- Having a small group, outdoor, open-air costume parade where people are distanced more than 6 feet apart;
- Attending a costume party held outdoors where protective masks are used and people can remain more than 6 feet apart;
- Going to an open-air, one-way, walk-through haunted forest where appropriate mask use is enforced, and people can remain more than 6 feet apart; if screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus.
- Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where people use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples, wearing masks is encouraged or enforced, and people are able to maintain social distancing; and
- Having an outdoor Halloween movie night with local family friends with people spaced at least 6 feet apart. Again, if screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised.
Higher risk activities
Avoid these higher risk activities to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19:
- Participating in traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door to door.
- Having trunk-or-treat where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots.
- Attending crowded costume parties held indoors.
- Going to an indoor haunted house where people may be crowded together and screaming.
- Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household.
- Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgement and increase risky behaviors.
- Traveling to a rural fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19.
For more information, please call the Health Department at 413-499-9411.