The COVID-19 pandemic has done little to scare Galveston County residents off their Halloween plans. But it’s changing the way many will celebrate the spooky holiday.

That might ease some fear among retailers who faced the frightening prospect of a pandemic-driven slump during the one month they have to make a profit. Much was at stake. Halloween was an $8.8 billion business in 2019, when more than 172 million Americans celebrated the holiday, spending about $90 each on candy, costumes, food and spirits, according to the National Retail Federation.

With the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommending neighborhoods forgo traditional trick-or-treating, locals are conjuring creative ways to celebrate safely.

In the Meadows neighborhood in League City, residents aren’t expecting many trick-or-treaters on Oct. 31, so they’ll instead be celebrating Halloween with a parade Oct. 24, resident Mandie McMillan said.

“It seems to have been received pretty well,” McMillan said. “We’re expecting less kids out and about than normal, and less people giving out candy, and so we thought this would be a better opportunity for kids to fill up their pumpkins and their bags full of candy.”

The Meadows residents attending the parade are encouraged to dress up, have fun and enjoy watching the decorated cars, trailers and golf carts, McMillan said. There will be prizes for the best-decorated vehicles in the parade, and there will be designated candy tossing zones, so people in the parade won’t be tossing candy while their vehicles are moving, McMillan said.

“It’s pretty much just organized by the neighbors, and we’re hoping to get a good turnout,” McMillan said. “People have started decorating their houses for Halloween as soon as they possibly could.”

The Colony Park neighborhood in Galveston usually welcomes more than 1,000 trick-or-treating children, and residents are discussing various measures to have a socially distanced Halloween.

Some ideas Colony Park residents have thought of include giving out candy outside with 6-foot markers, rather than having children come up to the doors, creating one-way lines in front of homes, putting candy out on a table rather than in a bowl, putting up plastic barriers and wearing plastic face shields, and using a PVC pipe as a candy chute.

Christina Rodriguez in the Marlow Lake neighborhood in Texas City is helping organize a socially distanced Halloween block party featuring candy stations in driveways, a bounce house for smaller children, a haunted house for older children and various game stations.

Although it’ll be different, COVID-19 hasn’t dampened Halloween spirits, as local Halloween stores are reporting business has increased compared to years past and that people have been shopping for Halloween items earlier than usual this year.

“It’s one of the safest holidays we can celebrate right now,” Nichole Dove, manager of the Spirit Halloween store in Galveston, said. “A lot of the costumes come with masks, costumes are pretty much one-time use, and people are definitely in groups smaller than 10 to go trick-or-treating.”

Dove added that it appears people are going the extra mile decorating their homes this year for Halloween based on sales.

“There’s a lot of people coming up with ways to distribute candy safely,” Dove said. “I know a lot of people really want to give the kids something to celebrate this year; it’s been a rough year on the kids.”

James LaCombe: 409-683-5242, james.lacombe@galvnews.com or on Twitter @JamesAtGalvNews

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