UNION COUNTY — Even though the traditional Halloween events have been canceled, residents of Union County are finding alternative ways to celebrate the spooky season while staying safe from COVID-19.
The Oregon Health Authority said trick-or-treating and trunk-or-treat events pose a high risk of spreading coronavirus. Trunk-or-treat is a popular take on traditional trick-or-treating where instead of decorating your house and passing out candy, the community comes together with decorated cars to hand out candy. OHA, however, suggests lower-risk alternatives, such as staying in and watching a scary movie or going to a socially distanced one-way, open-air haunted maze.
Carrie Brogoitti, public health administrator for the Center for Human Development, La Grande, encourages people to think through how they will celebrate and consider how to keep virus spread low in the community.
“If we are going to participate in high-risk activities, then we really need to take precautions seriously,” Brogoitti said. “Maybe think about creating a new tradition and finding a new way to celebrate, in a safe way, that you might really love.”
Some people are planning on trick-or-treating or passing out candy, but with COVID-19 safe alternatives. Elgin resident Tiffany Rose is putting a table in her yard with candy bags and hand sanitizer available.
“I will make sure to have clean hands and a wear a face mask while I’m putting bags together,” Rose said. “It may sound like overkill. But I want our neighborhood kiddos to have something to enjoy.”
Another Elgin resident, Dellyne Trumbull, is doing a candy stick graveyard, decorating her front lawn with bagged candy on sticks.
“So the families feel safer with less interaction, and the kids still get to enjoy their trick-or-treating time,” Trumbull said.
The La Grande Main Street Downtown canceled its annual Halloween party. However, the organization is holding its annual Halloween costume contest online and will provide more details on its social media platforms. And the La Grande Parks and Recreation Department, meanwhile, is holding with a drive-thru trick-or-treating event 4-6 p.m. on Halloween at Riverside Park.
In addition, some businesses in Union County are determined to find safe ways to celebrate Halloween.
The local chapter of the Oregon Subaru Club is hosting a trunk-or-treat event outside of Kehr Chiropractic, 1802 Fourth St., Suite A, La Grande. Alex Kehr, son of Jason Kehr, who owns the business, is a member of the group and said the Subaru enthusiasts had planned to participate in the downtown festivities. With that event canceled, Kehr said the group decided to hold the trunk-or-treat to give children a chance to celebrate Halloween.
“I thought it could be a cool idea,” he said, but did not comment on how the event will protect against spreading coronavirus.
Several parents are planning on taking their children trick-or-treating door to door. Elgin resident Valyn Phelps said she is taking her two children, who are 5 and 2, trick-or-treating and passing out candy as she traditionally has.
“I do think it will be different,” Phelps said. “I believe that some people will not participate due to COVID, due to them being at high risk, or just not wanting to get sick. But as far as us taking our kids around, it all depends on how others participate as well. We will respect others’ wishes as to how they want or don’t want to hand out candy.”
Oregon Health Authority recommends if you are gathering for a Halloween party, keep the guest list below 10 people and avoid spending a long time with members outside of your household. OHA also recommends if you are participating in festivities to maintain social distancing and warned that Halloween costume masks do not provide adequate protection from spreading or contacting the virus.