The coronavirus pandemic will alter Halloween, evidenced by new rules and canceled events.


In the year of virtual play dates and “Zoom school,” parents are striving to make positive Halloween memories without putting their families’ health at risk.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, traditional trick-or-treating is strongly discouraged by Indianapolis and state officials. “Trunk-or-treating,” hayrides and visits to haunted houses have also been labeled as “high risk” activities.

Even 3-year-olds, such as the daughter of Indianapolis resident Chris Hilgenberg sense a shift in this holiday season.

“She knows something is definitely different this year compared to last year,” Hilgenberg said.

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Irvington residents decorate their homes in Indianapolis, Wednesday, October 21, 2020. The Historic Irvington Halloween Festival will judge exterior house decorations in the neighborhood on Oct. 26-27. (Photo: Grace Hollars/IndyStar)

Hilgenberg and other parents told IndyStar about plans to modify Halloween in the interest of social distancing. Hilgenberg’s daughter, for instance, is looking forward to a “spooky Halloween dance party” in her family’s backyard.

Mayor Joe Hogsett made a plea Oct. 15 for families to curtail Halloween festivities to protect their health and the health of their neighbors. “It’s worth taking the time to get creative” with celebrations, he said.

Easter’s influence

Indianapolis resident Pablo Svirsky said his family’s scavenger hunt for Halloween candy will be a variation on traditional Easter egg hunts.

For Svirsky and other parents planning backyard parties, the guest list includes members of their pandemic “pod” or small circle of people who have socialized or shared child care responsibilities since spring. 

“We’ll have snacks, maybe some crafts and certainly a few adult beverages,” Svirsky said of the gathering focused on his 8-year-old, 6-year-old and 6-month-old.

Indianapolis resident Liz Munson said the pandemic is altering her family’s plans, but added, “We can still have fun with our friends, dress up and eat candy.”

Halloween safety: What to expect at pumpkin patches and haunted houses

Munson is looking forward to a backyard candy hunt, plus games and a chili feast.

“My 10-year-old also requested ‘candy stations’ where each adult stands at a different place in the yard,” Munson said. “Kids will go around to each station so they can still say ‘trick or treat’ and get something.”


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Broad Ripple resident Rose Douglass is planning an outdoor “haunted treat hunt” for her 2-year-old daughter and a friend who’s the same age.

“We have some foam gravestones that will have candy, mini granola bars and small toys hidden behind them,” Douglass said. “Each kiddo will have the traditional Halloween pumpkin bucket to carry their discovered treats.”

Keeping it inside

Maura Molloy, a resident of the Kennedy-King neighborhood, will send her husband and 4-year-old daughter on an errand while she prepares a Halloween surprise at home.

The idea, Molloy said, is for her daughter’s stuffed animals to represent homeowners giving out trick-or-treat candy. After taping construction-paper houses to the wall, Molloy will place a stuffed animal and a bowl of candy in front of each one.

“So she’ll trick-or-treat inside, going to all her stuffed animals’ houses,” Molloy said. “And I’ll do all their voices, per usual.”

Indianapolis resident Lisa Fraser-Mack said her family’s plans include carving pumpkins, deemed a “low risk” activity by health officials.

“Since it’s on a Saturday, we may watch some scary movies and even have a séance,” Fraser-Mack said. “We want Halloween to be fun this year, but we know our first priority is to keep everyone safe.”

Indianapolis resident Rye Von intends to add pizzazz to distributing candy at home for her 12-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son.

Her youngsters will pop balloons filled with treats. Von also sells the balloons, inflated by an air compressor and offered in pumpkin, spider and witch’s cauldron shapes, through her Art Haus Balloon Company.

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Thoughts on trick-or-treating

Fishers resident Michael McMann said his family won’t give out candy on Halloween.

McMann said people who choose to trick-or-treat in the traditional sense will make the pandemic worse.

“With all the metrics rising, there is no rational or ethical reason to risk our infection or risk infecting others,” McMann said. “In no world is wandering the streets, encountering numerous disparate groups and households – spreading the virus in the process – a reasonable thing to do.”

Indianapolis resident Sarah Wallace and her neighbors are planning sidewalk candy distribution in the afternoon to avoid any potential large gathering at night. While the city didn’t designate official trick-or-treat hours for Oct. 31, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department will schedule extra patrols and enforcement in neighborhoods from 6-8 p.m.

In Wallace’s plan, families will place individual bags of candy near the sidewalk.

“This will allow the kids to walk from house to house as a sort of costume parade to collect candy, but remain distanced from non-family members,” she said.

Douglass, the Broad Ripple resident planning a “haunted treat hunt” at her house, detailed her method for preparing goodies for trick-or-treaters.

“I have vinyl gloves to wear while filling the bags and will keep (the bags) in the garage until the night of Halloween,” she said. “We are planning to set up a table at the end of our driveway where we will set the treat bags.”

Douglass said she has fond memories of collecting Halloween candy as an elementary school student.

“It seems like such a small, trivial event, but if we can put some joy, fresh air, and a little treat back into the kids’ lives while being safe and maintaining social distancing, I’m all for it,” she said.

Contact IndyStar reporter David Lindquist at [email protected] or 317-444-6404. Follow him on Twitter: @317Lindquist.

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