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Upper Valley towns formulating Halloween events that adhere to social distancing

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 9/21/2020 9:33:53 PM
Modified: 9/21/2020 9:33:48 PM

HARTFORD — In years past, close to 600 people would turn out for Hartford Parks and Recreation Department’s annual trunk-or-treat event at Lyman Point Park.

This year, regulations put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic have caused communities and organizations to rethink celebrations.

Trunk-or-treat events, which have grown in popularity in recent years, involve people setting up vehicles and booths to give out treats to children. In Hartford, area organizations and businesses participate.

“It’s not going to be the same as we’ve done in the past, but it will still be a trunk or treat style event,” said Jay McDonough, superintendent of recreation programs for the Hartford department. “Instead of people walking through the park it will be a drive-up event.”

The department is currently scouting locations for the event and hope to have the details in place by early October. Businesses and organizations who want to contribute should contact the department.

“We’re still kind of in the planning process for this,” McDonough said. “We’re still brainstorming the logistics. In the past you’d show up, might need to wait in line to start. With the drive-through event, we need to find a place where traffic congestion won’t be an issue.”

The Lebanon Recreation and Parks Department typically holds a celebration centered at Colburn Park.

“The way Halloween Fun Fest has always worked in the past was wonderful but obviously with COVID we need to take proper precautions,” said recreation coordinator Krissy Flythe.

The department has been working with other city agencies including the police department and hope to have a plan in place in early October.

“We’re anticipating that folks are going to be sticking within their communities so that’s our present idea on planning,” Flythe said.

Vermont officials are encouraging people to proceed with their Halloween plans while adhering to social distance guidelines.

“Within the usual guidance we give about everything there should be room for Halloween and people can still enjoy the holiday to a degree,” Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said recently during a recent coronavirus briefing hosted by Gov. Phil Scott, according to the Associated Press. He advised against large parties. “We have to abide by the 6-foot rule, we have to abide by the masking rule but there (are) creative ways to do this.”

Hanover Parks and Recreation is going completely virtual with its Halloween programming.

“What we’ve found in some of our in-person activities that we’ve been running is some people aren’t ready yet for groups and the preference is still for self-guided and virtual events and activities,” said Liz Burdette, assistant director of the department.

Beginning Oct. 5, the department will launch weekly activities they’re calling the “October Spooktacular Challenge,” which will include prizes for winners.

Week one is a Halloween joke contest, which will be judged by the number of likes posts get on the department’s Facebook page. Participants will be instructed to find black cats and ghosts throughout the department’s website and Facebook pages as part of a digital scavenger hunt for week two. During week three, there will be a pumpkin scavenger hunt.

“It’ll be all walking, no driving needed,” Burdette said. “We’re going to find a big pumpkin to give away so people can carve that.”

The last week will be a Halloween costume contest — people will email in photographs — with winner in adult, youth and pet categories.

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at or 603-727-3221.

Valley News

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