By: Michelle Poirier

With Halloween fast approaching and York Region being pushed back to a modified Stage 2, parents have conflicting views on whether they will be taking their kids trick-or-treating this year or not.

An announcement on October 19 by Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, released on the provincial website, recommends that parents in hot spots not have their children go trick-or-treating, and instead find other ways to celebrate.

“As Ontarians begin to prepare for Halloween this year, I’d like to remind everyone to take extra precautions to ensure you are keeping yourself and your families safe,” he said.

While this announcement changed some parents’ minds, others are still determined to go out.

“We are taking our kids trick-or-treating; we do not want them to miss out on an important yearly experience,” said Keswick resident Allie McHenry.

“My stepdaughter picked a cool costume that comes with a mask this year, and we will be distancing when we can. Most participating families have found cool new ways to hand out candy this year with limited contact.”

Kat Cieszynska, also from Keswick, said her family is going out too.

“We have a plan to visit people in our bubble, family and our close neighbours. Then we will spend the night doing fun stuff with them instead of all-night trick-or-treating,” she said.

“York Region Public Health along with the Province have recommended that areas in the modified Stage 2 not have the traditional door-to-door trick or treating,” Mayor Margaret Quirk said in her Facebook post.

“Halloween has not been cancelled,” she continued. “Public Health is asking that changes be made to how you celebrate. Choose what is comfortable for you and your family.”

For many parents, that means following the provincial recommendation.

Keswick resident Crystal Campbell has decided not to go out.

She has a three-year-old son, and she wants to keep the Halloween spirit alive for him this year, even if she is not taking him door-to-door.

“I’m inviting my nieces and nephew over for a daytime Halloween hunt, I’ll be hiding candy-like Easter eggs in the backyard,” she said.

Ms. Campbell has a large backyard that allows for social distancing. She will be transforming it into a spooky candy hunt for the four children attending.

Megan Houston, a resident of Jackson’s Point, said they are not going out either.

“We’ve decided to stay home and do our own thing. We can make things fun at home. I’d rather give up Halloween to have Christmas,” she said.

Ms. Houston said her kids are huge Halloween fans, so they will be dressing up, eating their favourite treats, ordering a pizza and watching a scary Scooby-Doo movie.

For those still going out on Halloween, Dr. Williams recommends walking with members of your household, trick-or-treating outside, wearing a face covering, not lingering at doorsteps, social distancing, and avoiding touching high-touch surfaces and washing your hands or using hand sanitizer frequently.

For those handing out candy, he recommends wearing a face covering, washing your hands regularly, and not leaving treats in a bucket or bowl for children to grab from, but instead using tongs or other similar tools.

“Halloween will still be fun; just do it a bit differently this year,” Mayor Quirk said.

The Mayor offered parents some ideas for Halloween on her Facebook page that do not involve door-to-door trick-or-treating, including games, crafts, a movie night, dressing up as a family for that day, decorating your house, carving pumpkins, having a candy hunt in your home or yard, or having a modified trick-or-treating outing with family members or close friends who have made prepared loot bags.

Residents looking to have some distanced Halloween fun can visit the annual Hawkins Halloween Haunt for Hunger Food and Toy Drive at 9 Hawkins Street in Sutton from October 17 to 31 between 7:00 to 9:30 p.m.

Sutton resident Laurie Carriere has modified her and her family’s annual event to be a drive-by “fun-raiser” where you can see their, and some of their neighbours, spooky displays.

Along the route are bins to place donations of non-perishable food items and toys. These donations help the Georgina Food Pantry, the Optimist Club, Santa’s Helpers and local Churches to help those in need.

The province is providing posters that you can print out and tape to your windows to let trick-or-treaters know if you are handing out candy this year or not. To download the posters, you can visit www.ontario.

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