Tales of the Sunset

Tales of the Sunset: The Halloween Pivot

The Halloween Pivot

By Suzy Loftus

Halloween is by far the most popular holiday in my house. Truly. My girls have countdown clocks on their phones where they not-so-patiently wait for October 1st and it cannot come soon enough.

They start strategizing their costumes in November for the next year. It’s a thing. We have large inflatable Halloween-themed blow-up decorations, and every year it’s a struggle to figure out which ones we have room to display. From pumpkin carvings, where each girl creates her own custom-designed Jack-O-Lantern, to roasting pumpkin seeds and figuring out which night we are going to curl up in front of the couch and watch Hocus Pocus or Halloween Wars, we are serious about what my girls call “Spooky Season.” 

Enter 2020. I’ve written about how 2020 has been full of previously unimaginable challenges and hardships that required us to pivot in ways we didn’t know were possible. Following the guidance of our Public Health leaders, we’ve pivoted to find ways to facilitate “remote learning.” We’ve pivoted in how we support our local businesses by shopping or eating outside. And we’ve pivoted in how we connect with our friends and family through Zoom birthday parties, happy hours and socially distanced outside visits. We’ve proven that we have the ability to take the guidance from our Public Health leaders and pivot – so, how do we pivot this Halloween?

Well, the first place to look is at our San Francisco Department of Public Health Guidelines about how to have a safer Halloween. Our Public Health leaders have put together very helpful information that reminded me that Halloween is about so much more than what happens on October 31st. Spooky Season is a month of making memories and celebrating through carving pumpkins, making treats, watching movies and creating costumes.  Make sure to check out all their guidance for yourself – but here are a few highlights:

In order to maintain our progress with our diminishing number of COVID-19 cases, we have to remain vigilant to prevent any big spikes that could jeopardize our progress. As a result, they are still prohibiting any gatherings, indoor or outdoor, of more than 12 people; so, no indoor parties with people outside your household. And, they are prohibiting haunted houses, carnivals and the like. 

While they haven’t specifically prohibited trick-or-treating, it is discouraged and not recommended. So, what is safer to do? The DPH guidelines remind us that outdoor activities are always safer than indoor activities and Halloween masks are not a substitute for a proper face covering that fits over the nose, mouth and chin. Check out the exact recommendations here.

So, how do we pivot? Some ideas for safer Halloween activities include:

  • Host a Halloween scavenger hunt in your neighborhood with a group of no more than 12 people. Obviously, everyone must wear a mask and socially distance. Your folks can look for hidden pre-wrapped treats or fun Halloween-related objects like spiders, witches or black cats!;
  • Outdoor pumpkin carving is amazing on a beautiful October day;.
  • Although trick-or-treating is discouraged, if you choose to do so, consider laying out individually wrapped goodie bags that are lined up for families to grab and go while continuing to physically distance (such as at the end of a driveway or at the edge of a yard);
  • VOTE!Okay — that’s not actually a Halloween strategy — but one that will help save our country, so send in your ballot or make a plan to vote today.

This Halloween will be different, yes, but there’s no reason you can’t find some creative and safe ways to have some fun. It is my hope that we’ll continue to deepen our connection to each other and celebrate safely so that sooner than later we can hug each other, eat delicious meals together, and have that amazing Halloween block party again. Until then, I’m wishing you and yours a very Happy Halloween. 

Suzy Loftus is a native San Franciscan and resident of the Outer Sunset, mother of three, former district attorney of San Francisco and elected member of the San Francisco Democratic Central Committee.


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