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This isn’t going to be your average pumpkin-spice latte kind of Halloween, so we better buckle up and adjust our expectations. That’s not to say the celebration still can’t be fun with a little bit of scary thrown in, but we want to ensure it is safe for our kids.

Prepare the costumes as usual because kids of all ages have been looking forward to Halloween for weeks. It is the perfect opportunity to take on a new identity, even if it’s just for the night. This is one aspect of Halloween that parents can keep in the normal column, so “get your creativity on” with some input from the kiddos and make this a fun celebration (we already know it’s going be unforgettable for other reasons…)

Traditional, and not-so-Traditional, Halloween

Wear THE Mask:  On the quintessential scariest night of the year, masks are expected. A given for Trick or Treating so unsuspecting adults have to guess ‘who’s behind this false face?’ This year, however, a protective mask must be worn instead for safety. If your kids are sullen because they cannot wear the cool mask that came with their costume, cheer them up by either purchasing a Halloween-themed mask or customize your own unique mask.

No matter where your children are going or how they are participating, they must comply with safety standards by donning their protective masks, but don’t double up as it will be difficult to breathe if they mistakenly wear both. The protective mask will still make it difficult to guess the secret identity of your ghost or goblin!

Go Big and Stay Home:  If you are spending your Halloween at home, turn your house upside down and create your own Haunted House. Have the whole family pitch in to create ghastly creatures (Remember the clothes you purged at the beginning of the pandemic? Recycle them for your stuffed goblins and scarecrows!). Add a fog machine and some howling music to authenticate the haunted ambiance. 

Want a more kid-friendly environment? String orange lights and carve multiple pumpkins until you have a Jack-O-Lantern family, one to represent each member of your household. If drawing the faces is more your style, bring on the Sharpie, but whichever option you choose, keep close supervision with the young ones. They may decide to draw a permanent pirate mustache on their own face!

Who Says You Can’t Have a Party?: Even if you can’t host a Halloween Party with friends, you can create one for your family. Start with a spooky and spectacular creative menu to delight all palates. Next, plan interactive games for any age ranging from Halloween Bingo (use candy corn as the markers!), a scavenger hunt to locate the goodies, a spider ring toss game or even  a witch shaped piñata filled with treats. Finish the event with a “dance-off” to The Monster Mash and invite friends to participate via Zoom. Nothing gets kids more wound up than individually wrapped treats and sweets!

Monstrous Movie Night:  A family movie night is always a favorite, but if the weather is nice and the neighbors are around, create socially distanced seating and crank up the projector in your backyard. Encourage everyone to wear their costumes for a mini-parade before “the show.” Share pre-packaged snacks before the double feature starts:  “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” followed by “Goosebumps:  Attack of the Jack-O-Lanterns.” You are creating wonderful memories for your family while still ensuring safety and while still celebrating Halloween.

Trick or Treating 2020:   It is a season of tough decisions. To trick or treat, or not to trick or treat? That is the question for Halloween 2020. 

The Candy Chute: With a little ingenuity, one dad in Ohio created a social distancing trick of his own so that kids in his neighborhood will feel comfortable keeping the tradition going. He took some regular household supplies (a cardboard tube, orange spray paint, and black duct tape) to create a “candy chute” to safely dispense the candy to mini-ghosts and goblins stopping by his home. 

In a Trick or Treating hub near my home, one family has been recreating their version of the “candy chute” long before Covid-19 by delivering candy via a gutter. Kids love the clackity-clack noise of candy tumbling down the chute and the joy of treats dropping into their bags! 

Candy Picking:  In keeping with social distancing on this designated night for distributing treats, try one of these simple ideas:  hang some treats by string from a tree in your front yard so kids can ‘pick a treat,’ attach treats to a wooden stick or skewer to line your walkway with a ‘stick or treat’ option, individually wrap treats and set them on a Halloween-themed table six-feet from your front door, or use store-bought webbing to dangle the candy for a slightly creepier ‘grab-n-go.’

The Places You Go…

If you are comfortable venturing out for a Halloween celebration, these places have safely opened their doors to accommodate your family:

Hersheypark, Hershey, PA:  The Sweetest Place on Earth just got sweeter! Hersheypark is still celebrating Halloween and inviting guests for five fabulous weekends this fall! The celebration aptly named Hersheypark in The Dark provides access to favorite rides, chocolaty treats and encounters with costumed Hershey characters. To honor the “in The Dark” theme, patrons can experience lights-out thrills on some rides plus a Trick or Treat Trail with 13 sweet treat spots to collect candy! And for the first time ever, Hershey’s Chocolatetown will be open in the fall.

Franklin Institute, Philadelphia:  Want to have some Halloween fun infused with science experiments and ghostly thrills? Take your children to the Franklin Institute during Franklin Fright Weekend, October 31 – November 1 for some spooktacular, scientific fun. Activities to be offered include indoor trick or treating with ghostly surprises behind decorated doors, a take-home mini 3D pumpkin kit to decorate, and creepy crawlers from The Insectarium, to name a few. The entire Institute will be decked-out with Halloween inspired decor! Creative costumes are encouraged, and who knows, maybe B-b-b-ben F-f-f-franklin himself could be waiting to scare, errrr, surprise you!

Remember to check both Hersheypark and the Franklin Institute websites in advance for ticket information and hours, costume policies and Covid-19 safety protocols. 

Riverbend Environmental Education Center, Gladwyne

While the traditional Riverbend Shiverfest will not take place this year, families can participate in Shiverquest from October 17-31 instead.The environmentalists at Riverbend have created a family-friendly adventure where you can participate at home or safely at their property. Think scavenger hunt for the entire family working together as a team! Investigator Kits can be purchased online and picked up curbside on October 16, and all participants will be entered to win a Riverbend Summer Camp week for 2021.

For more details, be sure to check the Riverbend Environmental Educational Center website.

There are safe options available, whether you stay home or step outside to celebrate Halloween with your kids. Whatever you decide, be safe, be smart… and have a hauntingly good time!

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