NASHVILLE — Halloween likely will look a little bit different this year with the very real specter of COVID-19 in the air.
Nash County offered an alternative to traditional trick-or-treating on Tuesday as the Nash County Parks and Recreation Department, Nash County Senior Services and the Town of Nashville collaborated in offering the first annual “Trick or Treat Trail” event.
Other local businesses, including Nashville Auto Mart, Providence Bank, Zaxby’s of Nashville and Wendy’s of Nashville contributed to the success of the event.
“Previously, we held a ‘Halloween Spooktacular’ at Nash Community College, but due to COVID-19 concerns, we moved our event outside and changed the format,” Nash County Communications Manager Jonathan Edwards said in an interview.
The event was family-centered rather than just focusing on passing out treats to local school children. Nash County has an annual tradition where employees dress up and pass out treats to students from Nashville Elementary School. That event usually happens on the last business day before Halloween but will not be taking place this year due to COVID concerns.
Last year, the county also sponsored the family-centric “Halloween Spooktacular” event at Nash Community College, but because of COVID concerns, the event was moved outside and the format was changed to a walk-through or drive-through event where masks and social distancing were encouraged.
“With this being our first time hosting a drive-through/walk-through event, I think overall it was a success,” Nash County Parks and Recreation Director Thomas Gillespie said. “We had around 900 participants walk or drive through the Trick or Treat Trail. My staff and I appreciate the big support from the community that made this event special and a memorable moment for a lot of families. I can envision this event being a part of Nash County and the community for years to come.”
The event was held Tuesday rather than on Saturday for practical reasons, Edwards said.
“We held the event on Tuesday because last year’s Halloween Spooktacular was held the Tuesday before Halloween. We wanted consistency so people will have a feel for when our Halloween event will happen each year,” Edwards said. “This also gave us the opportunity to have a rain date, in case the weather didn’t work out on Tuesday.”
The City of Rocky Mount, in conjunction with the state Department of Health and Human Services, is recommending alternative events such as this instead of traditional trick-or-treating this year.
“Halloween is not a government-recognized holiday, however the City of Rocky Mount encourages residents to follow COVID-19 practices including the wearing of masks, maintaining six feet of social distancing and handwashing,” a city spokesman said in a press release.
The state DHHS recommends that residents participate in low-risk activities this year, the statement said. Low-risk Halloween activities include carving or decorating pumpkins, holding virtual Halloween costume contests or holding a Halloween movie night with members of your household.
Moderate-risk Halloween events include no or low-touch trick-or-treating, distributing individually wrapped goodie bags at the end of the driveway or yard for trick-or-treaters or attending a costume party held outdoors where protective masks are used and people remain more than six feet apart.
However, some traditional Halloween events are considered high-risk this year, according to the statement from the City of Rocky Mount. These high-risk activities include attending crowded costume parties held indoors; participating in traditional trick-or-treat activities where treats are handed to children who go door-to-door or children take candy from a shared bucket; or participating in trunk-or-treat events where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots.
Anyone who has COVID-19 or who is experiencing COVID symptoms are advised to remain at home on Halloween this year, the statement said.