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Some Ohio Communities Cancel Trick-Or-Treating This Halloween

Yuting Gao

COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Ohio, and while the state has not canceled Halloween outright, many communities are making the decision to cancel trick-or-treating.

Because Halloween falls on a Saturday, many Central Ohio communities are doing trick-or-treating in some form on Thursday, Oct. 29, known as Beggars Night.

In Cleveland, city officials are strongly discouraging residents from trick-or-treating on October 31. Many counties in Northeast Ohio are currently considered red level 3 public health emergencies under the state advisory system. Cuyahoga County is at risk of becoming purple, or the highest risk level for Ohio counties.

A few small Northeast Ohio communities have already decided to cancel plans for Saturday. Atwater Township, in Portage County, announced the cancelation of trick-or-treating on its Facebook page last month.

The reaction in the comment section ranges from jokingly suggesting they protest the cancelation by wearing costumes, to outrage over residents’ inability to decide for themselves.

The Ohio Department of Health has released non-binding guidelines for communities, saying that going door-to-door for trick-or-treating risks spreading COVID-19. Among their recommendations are to wear masks and socially distance while collecting candy, or possibly switching to drive-through events.

Even if your community is having trick-or-treating, that doesn't mean you should have a Halloween party to go with it, Gov. Mike DeWine says.

"Please reconsider hosting or attending gatherings of any size," DeWine said. "This includes with friends and extended family, people who don't live in your household. Two, think about canceling events. Certainly, don't go to Halloween parties. Wear masks inside and outside when you cannot social distance. Above the nose, over the mouth, secure over the chin."

The CDC is also recommending the use of Halloween-themed cloth masks instead of traditional masks. Costume masks will not protect the user from the spread of the virus, but the two should not be used together – the combination can make it difficult for kids to breathe, CDC officials warn.

Newburgh Heights mayor Trevor Elkins said the response hasn’t been as bad in his city, where trick-or-treating is also canceled. 

“We’ve gotten some good feedback as well, where people have said, ‘Look we really appreciate the steps you guys have taken all through this process,'" he said.

Newburgh Heights held a replacement event last Saturday, where families were able to drive through town and get candy in a safer environment.

Elkins said there are typically some 600-800 children who participate in trick-or-treating, but only about 200 kids live in the community. Local police will enforce the cancelation this weekend.

“We’re not putting kids in jail or anything like that,” Elkins said. “What our intent is, is to have extra patrolmen on duty that evening.”

Two Summit County communities, Copley and Fairlawn, are letting neighborhoods decide how they want to handle trick-or-treating on Halloween.

In Trumbull County, Lordstown also canceled trick-or-treating. Warren also canceled but will hold a “Boo-Thru” event where families drive-through and sealed treats will be passed out.