CADILLAC — Halloween aficionados are thinking outside the box about how they can safely distribute treats to excited youngsters — a tradition that is considered to be a high-risk activity this year by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
John and Amanda Phillips, with help from their very enthusiastic 5-year-old daughter, Edith, have been decking out their house on Granite Street for Halloween and Christmas for a number of years.
"It's just something fun to do," John said. "And it's fun for kids, too."
This year, Amanda said they decided to take a Disney angle after a recent trip to a Disney World Halloween Party.
While they still have a motley assortment of gravestones, skeletons, and inflatable phantasms, they also have Halloween-themed decorations featuring Mickey Mouse and many of his friends.
Aside from the inspiration they received from visiting Disney World, Amanda said another reason they decided to make their home more kid-friendly was to tone down the scare-factor. After all, the main reason for decorating the house is to make it fun and memorable for the kids, she said.
Unfortunately, Amanda has a feeling the number of trick-or-treaters who visit their home this Halloween will be down as a result of concerns about the coronavirus.
To get around concerns that some may have about trick or treating, John has thought about the idea of using a long tube to transport treats from inside their home to kids outside. That way, there is no hand-to-hand contact. Another idea he had was to rig up a low-powered air gun to propel the candy at trick-or-treaters from a safe distance.
Heavily decorated homes like those belonging to the Philips may be big attractions this Halloween, as MDHHS has suggested sightseeing with family members as a low-risk alternative to traditional trick or treating.
Other low-risk Halloween activities listed by the CDC include the following: carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household and displaying them; carving or decorating pumpkins outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends; decorating your house, apartment, or living space; doing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house admiring Halloween decorations at a distance; having a virtual Halloween costume contest; having a Halloween movie night with people you live with; and having a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home rather than going house to house.
While MDHHS suggests not trick-or-treating at all this year, for those that do, they offer some tips to maximize safety.
Advice for homeowners includes not handing out candy if you're sick, wearing a face mask covering your mouth and nose, using duct tape to mark six-foot lines in front of the home and leading to driveway/front door, positioning a distribution table between yourself and trick-or-treaters, distributing candy on a disinfected table to eliminate direct contact, handing out candy in an open space where distancing is possible, rather than from the front door, and considering a neighborhood costume parade — an easy way to keep safe space between children.