• warning: Parameter 2 to ed_classified_link_alter() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/soloneconomist/www/www/includes/common.inc on line 2968.
  • warning: Parameter 2 to ed_classified_link_alter() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/soloneconomist/www/www/includes/common.inc on line 2968.

Halloween events change in response to COVID-19 concerns

A trio of ladies checks out 45 carved and lit pumpkins at dusk in front of the historic Ranshaw House in North Liberty last October.

JOHNSON COUNTY– As fears of the COVID-19 virus continue, with mitigation efforts ongoing to minimize the spread, add Halloween events to the ever-growing list of activities impacted.
In North Liberty, the annual Trunk or Treat was cancelled, however the North Liberty Community Library compiled online submissions of costume photos, which will be up on the library’s Facebook page the morning of Friday, Oct. 30. The recreation department’s Haunted Happenings also was shelved this year, but a tradition which started last year will continue.
Last year the historic Ranshaw House was the backdrop for 45 pumpkins carved by community members, and lit by city staff for a community pumpkin display. Residents are encouraged to place their carved pumpkin on display risers outside the house, located on the north end of the community center, starting on Wednesday, Oct. 28, through noon on Friday, Oct. 30. The pumpkins will be lit at 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 31 (Halloween), for the public to stop by and admire.
Also on Halloween Night, the Iowa City Ghost Hunters will investigate the North Liberty Community Center for paranormal activity, with their search broadcast via live stream. The team also recently investigated the Ranshaw House.
Two drive-in movies, with a Halloween theme, will be shown at the Colony Pumpkin Patch with Monsters, Inc. showing on Wednesday, Oct. 28, and Hocus Pocus flashing across the big screen on Thursday, Oct. 29. Showtime for both nights is at 7 p.m. and preregistration for the free event is required at https://northlibertyiowa.org/2020/10/12/free-drive-in-movies-to-spook-up....
Colony Pumpkin Patch is also hosting a Flashlight Maze on Friday, Oct. 23, from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m. with tickets available at colonypumpkinpatch.mazeplay.com.
“Beggars Night” is set in North Liberty for Halloween Night, with no set start time, but ends at 7 p.m. Unlike a normal year where families roam neighborhoods in a relatively carefree manner, the city is strongly urging people to reconsider their trick-or-treating this year. Door-to-door interactions, while typically quick, involve close and frequent contact, which has the potential for spreading the virus, which causes COVID-19. Johnson County Public Health, and other experts are urging alternatives such as setting up Halloween displays for people to drive by and look at, hosting online costume and/or pumpkin carving parties, hosting neighborhood vehicle parades, reversing trick-or-treating or trunk-or-treat roles with people tossing treats to the kiddos; or just staying home and having a trick-or-treat scavenger hunt in your house.
For those who do plan to venture forth, Johnson County Public Health (JCPH) and the city strongly recommend limiting your trick-or-treating group to your immediate household, or the “bubble” you’ve been with. They also advocate skipping busy areas, avoiding homes where people are not wearing face coverings or social distancing, setting up contactless candy-delivery such as tossing candy or merely setting treats out in the driveway. Of course, the constant companion for many, hand sanitizer, is also recommended, with frequent usage.
Homes that are prepared appropriately for safe trick-or-treating should have their porch and/or outdoor lights on, while homes not participating should turn theirs off as a signal.
Of course, sick people should stay home, as well as anybody who has been in contact with a person either sick from COVID-19 or showing COVID-19 signs and symptoms. Wearing a face covering (mask) is strongly encouraged as well as avoiding spaces, which do not allow for at least 6 feet of separation.
The full list of recommendations from Johnson County Public Health is available online at johnsoncountyiowa.gov/Halloween2020.
The City of Tiffin is also permitting trick-or-treating, with the same guidelines as North Liberty, on Saturday, Oct. 31, and also with an end time of 7 p.m. In Swisher, the city council is leaving trick-or-treating up to individual discretion while requesting people follow social distancing. In addition, the Swisher Library has cancelled its Trick-or-Treat Night.
In addition to municipalities cancelling or altering Halloween events, so, too, are private organizations, such as Miracles in Motion, located near Swisher. Its annual “Boo in the Barn” event, which has been an opportunity for the organization to provide a day of fun for the kids, and their families, who are clients of Miracles in Motion, has been canceled. Miracles in Motion is an equine (horse) –based center offering four types of classes for people (primarily children but also special needs adults), with social, motor or other developmental challenges
Instead, the afternoon of fun has been replaced with a virtual (online) horse parade featuring the group’s therapy horses decked out in costumes. Visitors to the website: www.miraclesinmotion.com can vote for their favorite, and be entered into a contest. The winner will be able to visit the farm and meet one of the horses in-person.