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Organizers adjust Halloween activities as CDC releases new safety guidelines

Published: Sep. 30, 2020 at 7:54 PM EDT
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NEW BERN, N.C. (WITN) - Halloween celebrations will look different for many families this year because of COVID-19, and kids may find it a bit trickier getting their hands on Halloween treats due to safety restrictions.

But in Eastern Carolina, some event organizers are making sure they can provide some sort of Halloween experience for those kids and their families.

“People need this right now. They’re scared, they’re lonely, they’re frustrated.”

Those were the adjectives used by the New Bern Historical Society’s Mickey Miller, who says they are moving forward with their annual Ghostwalk event.

But in its 30th year, the Ghostwalk will take on both a live and virtual experience due to COVID-19, providing supernatural fun during a frightening time.

“We can entertain people but still educate them about New Bern’s really cool history in a safe way by re-imagining the whole event," Miller adds.

The Ghostwalk will have 13 live ghost stories told in three loops at the Cedar Grove Cemetery. It will also have 13 pre-produced stories told virtually for those that want to stay home.

With the CDC releasing new guidance about the spooky holiday just a month away, other celebrations like the Candy Cruise in Atlantic Beach hope to provide a traditional Halloween experience in a safe way.

“You know everything will be socially distant, we’re not going to have large crowds, we’re not going to have groups of people walking around,” Morgan Gilbert describes, the town’s Director of Recreation, Communication, and Special Events.

Unable to hold their usual Trunk-or-Treat type event, the Candy Cruise will make sure kids don’t get tricked out of their treats.

“All of our vendors will be set up on the exterior edge of the circle, and children will be able to hold their candy buckets out of the car window so they can just drop [the candy] in the bucket,” Gilbert explains.

The CDC’s new guidance breaks down Halloween activities into three risk categories: high, moderate, and low.

And while traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating is seen as high risk, for one local health official, the concern isn’t in exchanging candy.

“Could a virus theoretically be transmitted on the surface of a candy wrapper? I suppose so, but I think the risk of that is pretty low,” says Pitt County Health Director John Silvernail.

For Silvernail, the real risk comes with groups of kids, living outside the same household, traveling door to door.

“If you get 6 or 8 kids that want to go trick-or-treating as a group, you’re going to have groups that generally don’t live in the same household mixing, and there’s the risk of transmission.”

Both the Ghostwalk and Candy Cruise require ticket purchases ahead of time. Masks will be required at both events and social distancing and other recommended safety guidelines will be in effect.

The City of New Bern says they are following the guidelines outlined by the CDC and Governor Roy Cooper, and are not participating in any Halloween activities because of COVID-19.

However, they say that traditional trick-or-treating and other activities will be left up to the decision of individual households and neighborhoods.

For more on the CDC’s Halloween celebration guidelines, visit cdc.gov.

Copyright 2020 WITN. All rights reserved.

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