There are few gifts as precious to many American kids as a Halloween that lands fortuitously on a Saturday. The calendar favored them this year, but this year the calendar has little meaning.
Saturday will be a Halloween unlike any we have ever seen, because this year the ghosts aren’t the only scary thing unseen.
In case you missed it, San Mateo County public health authorities are recommending that we put some beloved traditions on the shelf this year. The San Mateo County Health Department notes on its website that most of the holiday activities associated with Halloween — and the equally beloved Día de los Muertos — virtually require gathering in groups, talking to strangers and other things that are so 2019.
Trick-or-treating? “Strongly discouraged,” says the Health Department, as is something apparently called “trunk-or-treating,” in which little goblins get their treats from the trunks of parked cars. Other hallmarks of the season are flat forbidden. Hayrides, indoor Halloween parties that go beyond the household, carnivals and live entertainment. Forget haunted houses. They are just too scary in this pandemic year.
We are still allowed to decorate our own homes and make our own holiday treats, the Health Department says.
All of this is for our own good. And if it sounds draconian that is only because the situation requires it. No haul of fun-sized tooth decay in individual shiny wrappers is worth spreading coronavirus. San Mateo County has come a long way since the lockdown in March. We do not want to remember Halloween as the night we endangered the more vulnerable among us along with our chance to return to school, church and our workplaces.
So pick up a pumpkin. Carve it till it’s just right. And light the candle inside with a thought to the epic party next year.
Clay Lambert is the editor of the Pacifica Tribune.