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Trick-or-Treat Night Changed for 5 Centre Region Municipalities

by on September 30, 2020 6:17 PM

Trick-or-treat will not be on Halloween this year for five Centre Region municipalities.

The Centre Region Council of Governments General Forum on Monday voted to change the designated date to 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 29 for State College Borough and College, Ferguson, Harris and Patton townships. Nov. 1 is designated as the rain date.

The approved motion also calls for the public to informed of and advised to follow COVID-19 "guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and that the public only engage in low-risk or medium-risk activities for Halloween 2020."

Additionally, it reaffirmed the authority in the Declaration of Disaster Emergency first approved in March for the Centre Region Emergency Management coordinator "to take all appropriate actions to alleviate the effects of this potential disaster, including cancelling all trick or treating if conditions warrant, following consultation with public health professionals and other authorities.”

COG earlier this year approved Oct. 31 as trick-or-treat night for the Centre Region, but a change in Penn State's home football schedule led to the alteration.

The Nittany Lions were originally scheduled to be on the road for Halloween, but the Big Ten's modified schedule now has Penn State playing its second game of the season on Oct. 31 at Beaver Stadium against Ohio State.

Even though no fans will be permitted in Beaver Stadium or in the surrounding tailgating lots, COG leaders still have concerns that the day will bring an influx of traffic and visitors to the area. In past years the region has designated an alternate night when Halloween falls on the same day as a Penn State football home game.

"Historically, for the safety of pedestrians, whether they’re trick-or-treaters or otherwise, we’ve found it’s best to move the trick-or-treat night off of the night of a home football game," COG Executive Director Eric Norenberg said.

Halfmoon Township is not included in the change and will continue with having its trick-or-treat night from 6-8 p.m. on Oct. 31. It typically is not impacted by the traffic on busier weekends in the Centre Region. The township's Board of Supervisors has already affirmed it would not change the date, chair Danelle Del Corso said.

For the rest of the Centre Region municipalities, this will be the second consecutive year trick-or-treat night has been moved from Halloween. In 2019, heavy storms caused State College and the townships to move it to Nov. 2.

Whether there will be any recommended changes or cancelation for trick-or-treating this year because of COVID-19 remains to be seen. 

"Traditional trick-or-treat this year is probably not going to be what we have seen in the past," said Shawn Kauffman, Centre Region Emergency Management coordinator. "The CDC recommendations that have come out are saying traditional trick-or-treating is a higher risk activity… The traditional trick or treating door-to-door or … trunk or treat are higher risk activities."

For Halloween, the CDC recommends lower risk activities involving household members or small groups and social distancing.

Kauffman said he has contacted the Pennsylvania Department of Health team working in Centre County about guidelines for the state and the region and is awaiting a reply. Those, along with monitoring the spread of the virus locally, will inform any recommendations about what would constitute a safe trick-or-treat night in the community.

 

"There’s no decisions that have been made," he said. "What the motions do is bring the final decision back to emergency management coordinator through consultation with public health officials and the managers within your municipalities."

Harris Township Supervisor Bruce Lord said within the Centre Region there are different levels of risk based on population and prevalence of the virus and recommendations should be treated accordingly.

"I think that it’s important that we recognize our municipalities are different and we don’t have a one-size-fits-all solution," Lord said. "What works in Halfmoon Township or perhaps Harris Township would be different from what might be advisable in the borough. So I hope the advice we get from our emergency management coordinator gives that kind of nuance."

State College Borough Councilman Evan Myers said he worried if one municipality cancels and another does not, it will cause families to go to another community to take their kids trick-or-treating.

"That’s going to happen and exacerbate the problem of people spreading this around," he said. "I’m just concerned if we all start doing different things, that could cause a lot more problems than we’re bargaining for. I think we need to try to figure out a solution that works for all of us. We need to work together. That’s why this COG exists."

State College Borough Councilwoman Theresa Lafer acknowledged the virus is more prevalent within the borough, but said that door-to-door trick or treating could open up other communities to greater spread of the virus.

"Children do carry this and their parents do," Lafer said. "So you might see a spike as a result of saying 'Well, we have lower numbers.' You only need one or two kids on the block and you kid see that spike... We want our children to have fun. We don't want them to bring home something that could make grandma really, really sick... We take for granted that our friends and neighbors are healthy until we find out they are actually among the people who tested positive."

Ferguson Township Supervisor Prasenjit Mitra said he believed the COG should not endorse a trick-or-treat night at all.

"As a COG, I don’t think we should endorse any particular time for trick-or-treating because by doing so what we are doing is enabling this thing to go on for people to move around in our communities and spread the disease," he said. "We should not be doing that. We are one of the highest numbers in Pennsylvania. We have one of the highest rates. In this situation, do we think things are going to be fine in four weeks time? I doubt that. This is just irresponsible to say we are going to endorse trick or treating."

His fellow Ferguson Township Supervisor Laura Dinnini said she had no issue with having a designated trick-or-treat night, but advising residents of precautions to take because it is considered a high-risk activity.

"I think if we don’t designate a time, people are going to do it anyway and then they’re going to do it on the football Saturday," she said.

That was a sentiment echoed by several others.

"I think the thought that we’re somehow going to be able to outlaw trick-or-treating is hubris," said College Township Councilman Paul Takac. "It’s going to happen anyway... People are going to make their decision and it’s up to us to avoid the chaos of it... I just think it’s a fool’s errand to try to outlaw this."

Gretchen Brandt, State College Area School Board liaison to COG, said she believed parents are likely to send kids out trick-or-treating regardless so the municipalities should aim to make it as safe as possible

"People are going to do this no matter what and however we can do it as safely as possible and as organized as possible in terms of having a date and a time I think will serve the community very well," she said.

 



Geoff Rushton is managing editor for StateCollege.com. Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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