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Halloween During COVID Serves Up Added Challenge
halloween house
Who knows what Halloween spells will greet Riverbank trick-or-treaters this weekend when (and if) they spread out across town, seeking that special candy at that special house. Ric McGinnis/The News

With Halloween right around the corner many are wondering how much candy they should buy or not buy and if kids will be trick or treating at all. Others may ask if there are any events like the popular trunk or treat gatherings to celebrate the upcoming holiday on Oct. 31. On that day, from 5 p.m.to 8 p.m., a special Treats and Trunks event – with masks recommended and social distancing mandatory – is planned by the Pentecostals of Riverbank. Being hosted at 3208 Stanislaus St., there will be fun, games and prizes.

This year Halloween lands on a Saturday and there will be a full moon to light up the night sky. It also is just before the end of Daylight Saving Time on Sunday, Nov. 1 so remember to ‘fall back’ and set the clocks back an hour when you go to bed on Saturday night.

Although there are no rules or laws in place to forbid people from celebrating Halloween in any specific way, there are some safety guidelines that local residents can choose to follow.

This time of year the City of Riverbank usually hosts the annual Haunted Hayride at Jacob Myers Park. This year it has been canceled along with many other events due to the pandemic as the city has discouraged mass gatherings to prevent the spread.

Halloween traditions have been celebrated for many years and although there have been scares with candy being poisoned, razor blades, needles, and shards of glass in them, the tradition of dressing up in costumes, trick or treating, pumpkin carving, haunted houses and parties has continued. So what will Halloween look like this year? The state and county have provided guidelines and recommendations.

Stanislaus County Health Services Agency distributed flyers with recommendations for a safer alternative to the traditional Halloween activities like to celebrate virtually with pumpkin carving, a painting contest or a costume parade, celebrate at home with a scavenger hunt or creating a haunted house in your own home, and the final tip is to have a Halloween movie night and dress up like your favorite character at home with your family.

The County advises the public to know their risks during the holiday and to avoid large gatherings, parties, trick or treating with friends, indoor events, and hayrides or mazes in large groups.

“In general, guidance regarding Halloween should be consistent,” stated City Manager Sean Scully. “Our goal is to spend our time and effort on active messaging and encouragement of safer alternatives. It isn’t going to be the same as a “normal” Halloween year but there are creative ways to make it fun for the youth of the community while still staying safe.”

There will not be fines or active enforcement however the City highly discourages any mass gatherings.