Treats or tricks?

Town awaits state guidance on Halloween tradition

Abington officials are waiting for state guidance before declaring whether the town’s little ghouls and ghosts can go trick or treating on Halloween.

The COVID-19 pandemic has already taken away a number of annual community activities this year. The traditional St. Patrick’s Day parade and Founder’s Day fireworks display were canceled. High school graduation was delayed until August and closed to the public. The annual Thanksgiving Day football game between Abington and Whitman- Hanson also looks doubtful for the first time in more than a century. 

But there is hope the annual tradition of costume-wearing kids asking neighbors for undersized pieces of candy can still happen.

“Before we put out anything certain, we want to wait for what the state says,” said Abington Health Agent Marty Golightly. “Halloween is my favorite holiday… Hopefully the guidance will come soon.”

Police Chief David Majenski said in an email to Abington News that the decision whether to hold or cancel trick or treating in Abington “is a decision that should be made by the board of selectmen.”

The Abington Board of Health discussed trick or treating at its meeting Monday night but did not take a vote whether it should take place or not, according to board Chairman Chris Schultz.

Board of Selectmen Chairman Tim Chapin said he personally doesn’t see an issue with trick or treating.

“It’s outdoors in an unconfined space,” he said. “I’m sure the Health Department will have plenty of safety recommendations to keep every one comfortable. Of course we’ll discuss this in open session before making any decisions.”

The CDC threw some cold water on the trick or treating tradition Monday, labeling it a higher risk activity that should be avoided. Instead, the federal agency suggested leaving pre-packaged goodie bags out for visitors to take. 

Golightly said in theory there’s a lower risk the virus would spread via the candy pieces themselves, particularly if people use sanitary precautions.

“When we go to 7-11 and get a Snickers bar, we tear the wrapper off and take a bite, we don’t touch the bar with our dirty hands, ” he said.

Abington schools, for example, clean off any shared equipment in between use. The Abington Public Library sets aside returned books for 24 hours before reshelving them.

The larger concern for Halloween comes from the multiple close-range face-to-face interactions.

While Abington has largely followed the guidance from state health officials when it’s come to setting town-wide policy, not all residents feel the same.

“My light will be on and there will be a bowl of candy on the steps,” Selectman Mike Kolodziej posted on Facebook recently. “Sorry not sorry.”

Golightly said residents should definitely avoid Halloween issues parties and many traditional group activities, such as bobbing for apples.

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