Halloween in a pandemic: Will it be “cancelled”?

Local+children+participating+in+Milford%27s+Boo+Bash.

Amber Lights Photography

Local children participating in Milford’s Boo Bash.

Dan Ellis, Staff Writer

For ages, children have paraded the streets come All Hallows Eve, adorned in masks and often elaborate costumes and clutching bags; many take part in the time-old tradition. The holiday dates back almost 2,000 years and has been welcomed into the hearts and homes of individuals worldwide. But this year, children may be clad in a mask of a different variety. In light of the recent pandemic, many are left unsure and concerned in regards to the beloved holiday.  

It came as no surprise to many that Halloween was going to be a severely controversial topic this fall season, as the pandemic continues to torment much of America and its citizens. Large gatherings have been placed on a list of taboos, raising the question of if and how will people celebrate. The area is, to say the least, gray. Milford’s  “Boo Bash” is on the list of one of the many wonders of Milford, comparable to only that of the likes of Milford Memories, an activity enjoyed by many.  The Boo Bash is an event held throughout downtown, during which people of all ages dressed in costumes roam the streets collecting sweet treats from local businesses. “All the merchants do love participating in it,” Tracy, of “For Feet’s Sake” states. “I have a feeling that Milford probably won’t be able to hold our Halloween festivities,” Tracy admitted with a pang of sadness, evident in her voice. The City council holds autonomy over the decision regarding the fate of the beloved festival, and it seems as though they currently hover over the “go” button, though with uncertainty. A quiet walk through the town would reveal the sound of many of the merchants practically holding their breath, as they await the decision, the likely answer solemnly creeping in the shadows. 

Despite the uncertainty with regards to the Boo Bash, it seems as though Halloween approaches this year, as it would any other. An iconic symbol of the time, Spirit Halloween, has been met with a shockingly familiar sight. Parents usher eager and frightened children around the store, as eyes wander aimlessly from costume to costume. Hands poke and prod at the various horror decorations as they are quickly yanked off shelves and into excited hands. The rows of animatronic horror devices guard the entrance, as one by one they become triggered by shoppers aimlessly wandering. The wide variety of reactions produced could make one almost forget the much more frightful aspect of the upcoming season…almost. This year, there was something a little different about the shop, something you could almost forget among the halls of Halloween. The walls, lined with masks, ironically seemed to look in, almost mocking the one evident difference accompanying this year. 

Whether you chalk it up to a full moon or Halloween falling on a Saturday this year, store manager Chelsea reported that “Spirit Halloween has been just as busy as previous years, maybe even more.” She recalled hearing from many customers that they plan on “having Halloween whether they are allowed to or not,” a statement that prompts the question that the influx in Halloween celebrators might be a form of passive resistance to restrictive legislation as a response to the pandemic. “People are a little fed up with the restrictions of things we’re allowed to do,” Chelsea explained. “In my opinion, I think it’s totally fine to have trick or treating as long as everyone is wearing their mask.” She goes on to explain how if everyone takes precaution it poses no real danger to the public; “I think it can still be safe and fun.”

A contrasting opinion on the matter was offered up by MHS senior and resident Halloween enthusiast Kendyll Klingensmith. “You’re around a bunch of other people and you hand out candy to people, which is the definition of not being socially distant,” Klingensmith explained. She believes that other aspects of the holiday could be considered “acceptable” if they were celebrated in a slightly more precautious manner. Other suggestions were made to ensure the safety of all parties involved during the trick or treat tradition including alternative methods of candy distribution. “I mean honestly you could, like, throw it,” a method also offered up by Spirit Halloween’s Chelsae, could be the saving grace of the tradition, as it seems.

Although this year’s Halloween may not be celebrated in the traditional sense, it will most certainly go down in history. Whether it be a late-night horror movie with friends, a chilly night full of tricks and treats, or ignoring it all together, Halloween is sure to live on in the hearts and minds of the people, not just this year, but forever.