COVID Halloween

Navigating Halloween during COVID-19.


At the start of the new year, the internet exploded with excitement as many holidays, including Halloween, fell on the weekend. Although this year Halloween does fall on a Saturday, typical Halloween activities are limited because of COVID-19 and social distancing guidelines. Large gatherings such as parties do not follow county guidelines and trick or treating is strongly discouraged. Students and Petaluma community members are finding alternative ways to celebrate the fall holiday.

Students typically spend Halloween dressing up and gathering with groups of friends. Senior Cody Liu describes the typical Halloween scene involving hanging out with friends in large groups and notes what he recommends classmates do this year.

¨Usually I hang out with a lot of friends on Halloween, but this year I plan to just watch scary movies. COVID has impacted my plans because I usually spend the day with a bigger group. I think if people are planning on going out with friends, they should go with a small circle and practice social distancing,¨ said Liu.

Junior Jordan Eckelhoff also shared her socially distanced Halloween plans. Her neighborhood is usually filled with trick or treaters, and this year she is trying to safely continue the tradition on a smaller scale.

“We are going to do socially distanced trick or treating for the kids; a friend and I are going to help out and keep the kids calm,” said Eckelhoff.

Though large group gatherings are currently unsafe, there are plenty of safe options that students and community members can do while being safe and celebrating the spooky holiday. Carving pumpkins, putting on a scary movie marathon, dressing up in costumes, and safely visiting Petaluma’s fall attractions are all ways to celebrate.  The Gambonini Family Ranch has a pumpkin patch open from October first through the thirty-first and has taken precautions to ensure that it is safe for its visitors. Samantha Gabonini, a senior at Petaluma High School and daughter of the Gambonini´s, explains how the farmstand is functioning this year.

¨We opened for our first year this year and have been able to serve the surrounding communities. We have families from Sonoma, Marin Counties, and [San Francisco]come to the Farmstand to enjoy the fall weather and pick out their pumpkins. We have many hand sanitizer stations and strongly encourage our guests to be socially distanced and enforce wearing masks,¨ said Gambonini.  Additionally, The Petaluma Pumpkin Patch and corn maze is open with mask and social distancing requirements

For younger children, Halloween is typically a day to dress up as their favorite characters and go door to door collecting sweets. In Petaluma, D Street is the center of Halloween fun, with trick or treaters and Halloween enthusiasts parading around the street collecting joy, sweets, and fear. Because of COVID-19, D street’s typical festivities will be reduced, though events will still take place. The Petaluma Library is holding a trick or treating event, and the Halloween Trick or Treat Trail is still planned to occur throughout the stores downtown for children under twelve.

Neighborhood celebrations are being lessened as well, though on a more individual level. Stacy Maderious, math teacher at our school, described what her eight-year-old son Ethan will be doing this year instead of his usual candy lined trip through the neighborhood. She explained their family’s plan to trick or treat at a few houses on their street, have a candy hunt (similar to the easter egg hunt they do in the spring), quickly visit a few close friends, and hand out candy to any kids who may come by. They are focused on staying safe while handing out candy: “We keep joking that we’re actually going to get a PVC pipe to slide candy to trick or treaters so nobody has to get close,” said Maderious.

Though this Halloween will be like no other as many activities do not meet state guidelines, there are many alternative and safe options to celebrate the holiday to prevent the spread of COVID-19.