By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Sep 29, 2020 at 2:04 PM

Halloween is definitely happening, but the haunted house-sized question is “how?” Obviously, like everything in 2020, Halloween activities will be different for most people, reflecting the fact we are still at least two broomsticks deep in a global pandemic. 

Even though Halloween falls on a Saturday this year, most bars won’t be hosting huge, boozy parties as they have in the past. However, adults who like to whoop up the holiday will find fun and de-boo-chery regardless. (Terrible pun, yet no regrets.)

But what about kids?

Whether or not to have traditional door-to-door trick or treating is still up in the air in Milwaukee, but in many Wisconsin communities, it’s a go. Thus, if the city votes no-go on the tradition, parents will still have to make a decision where their comfort level lies with trick-or-treating and whether or not they want to participate. And if so, how.

Because trick-or-treating takes place outside and naturally includes masks and social distancing to a degree (small groups rather than large groups usually roam together), parents say it's safer than other holiday celebrations and that it's a much-needed boost for their kids' mental health.

"It really depends on the community," says Maria Myers, a mother of two who lives in Genesse.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), however, lists door-to-door trick or treating as a “higher-risk” activity. “Trunk or treating” – where communities park cars in parking lots and had out candy from their trunks – is also not CDC recommended.

Instead, the CDC suggests carving pumpkins with family members, having virtual Halloween gatherings or a small-scale parade or scavenger hunt with a handful of socially-distanced friends and neighbors. 

"Because Covid cases in Wisconsin are soaring we have to find safe ways to celebrate Halloween. We have plenty of years to trick-or-treat in the future, just not this year," says Melina Michaels, a Milwaukee-based mom of three.

But for some families, traditional trick-or-treating is gonna happen, even if it includes travel to another community. Thus, people are brainstorming creative ways to distribute candy instead of the ol’ tried-and-true doorbell method. Here are some safe-ish ways to celebrate trick-or-treating for those who are going for it:

  • Choose a costume that wearing a mask enhances the disguise.
  • Chalk Xs on the sidewalk in front of your house to ensure social distancing while waiting in line for candy.
  • Hand out small bottles of hand sanitizer with candy or have sanitizer readily available in your yard.
  • Create a “Halloween chute” to send candy through so candy givers and candy receivers can stay distanced. Here’s one created by a dad in Cincinnati. And here's a local version:
  • Tape little bags of candy to popsicle sticks, “plant” the sticks a few feet apart in your front lawn, and let kids pick their treats.
  • Set up a “candy graveyard” in your own backyard, and have your kids go from one fake tombstone to another to receive a piece (or a pile!) of candy. (H/T Oriental Trading Company for this boo-rilliant idea.)

Still, the issue – like so many at this point in history – is extremely devisive among parents and non-parents alike. 

"As someone born on Halloween who loves the holiday, I'm torn on this. It's an outdoor activity, which reduces the risk, but then you are purposely interacting with the widest possible number of people, which increases it," says Thad Phetteplace. "If everyone was committed to doing it in a way that maintained social distancing, I would say yes, but I fear too many people would not do that."

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.