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Valley chooses safe over scary Halloween

Staff file photo / R. Michael Semple Michael Shrodek of Warren, dressed as a ghoul, left, hands out candy to trick-or-treater Dominic Stevens, 7, from Warren, during Halloween in 2014. Trick or treat is a mixed bag this year around the Valley, with some communities opting for drive-thru events, some hosting a traditional door-to-door event and others canceling the festivities altogether.

This year has brought changes to almost every facet of life, regardless of age, but most communities have put a safe twist on trick-or-treating to bring a sense of normalcy to Mahoning Valley kids.

Places have taken into consideration the pandemic and everyone’s safety, while still finding a way to keep the Halloween tradition.

Girard, for example, is following a layout by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Gov. Mike DeWine, and city officials are planning a drive-thru trick or treat.

“We wanted our children to have a fun Halloween, and we feel this will be a nice treat for them,” Girard Mayor James Melfi said.

Girard, along with eight other cities in the Mahoning River Corridor Mayors’ Association, met over the span of a few weeks to determine the best course of action.

Girard will be hosting a drive-thru in the turnaround by city hall 5 to 7 p.m. Oct. 31. It could start at 4 p.m. if city council finds more people may attend. The drive-thru will be for Girard residents only, and photo identification with a valid Girard address must be on the ID. Also, children up to sixth grade must be present in the car.

As for the treats themselves, city council approved the use of CARES Act funds to purchase $13 worth of candy for each child, totaling roughly $18,000 from the fund. OH WOW! The Roger and Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science and Technology will be donating a science kit for the children as well, officials said.

The city estimates around 1,000 children will partake in trick-or-treating.

MORE COMMUNITIES

Similar to Girard, McDonald decided to have a drive-thru trick-or-treat event 5 to 7 p.m. Oct. 31, but the village isn’t going to rule out a traditional trick or treat either. According to Mayor Glen Puckett on the village’s website, a traditional trick or treat isn’t recommended but still can take place provided those involved stick to social-distancing guidelines and wear masks.

Youngstown also is opting for a drive-thru but on a larger scale with its event — called “Boo-yah.” The city is partnering with several community groups as vendors. Covelli Centre will host the event 4 to 7 p.m. Oct. 31, and those attending will drive along a marked path. The vendors are encouraged to decorate their vehicles and dress up for Halloween. Prizes will be given to the best-decorated vehicle and best costume. The city asks anyone attending to wear a mask, even inside the vehicles.

Lordstown, on the other hand, is not hosting a village-sanctioned trick or treat at all.

“Following the CDC guidelines, they recommend not going door-to-door. Council took that to heart and decided to err on the side of caution,” Lordstown Mayor Arno Hill said.

Some places, however, have opted to keep trick or treat traditional.

Newton Falls, Campbell, Niles, Struthers and Lowellville, among others, will have a traditional trick or treat, but all have certain guidelines that need to be followed.

“We recommend that all parties follow social-distancing guidelines and wear masks. The community is in favor of a traditional trick or treat, but the guidelines should be followed,” Niles Mayor Steve Mientkiewicz said.

Another guideline that should be followed, at least for Struthers, is people handing out the candy and other treats must have an outdoor light on to show the residence is participating.

Newton Falls trick or treat will take place 2 to 4 p.m. Oct. 31 — but with a twist to help keep people safe. Residents passing out candy are asked to have a table outside their residence for the candy to be placed.

“We looked at all different options, and this seemed to be the best,” village manager David Lynch said.

Campbell, Niles, Struthers and Lowellville all will have their trick or treat 5 to 7 p.m. on Halloween.

STATE GUIDELINES

As a way to help stop the spread of coronavirus and keep people safe, DeWine provided guidelines and recommendations for the Halloween and the usual activities that go on during the season.

“It is strongly recommended that hayrides, haunted houses and trick-or-treating events be canceled / avoided,” a document from his office states.

He also offered some ideas to help keep people safe other than a drive- thru trick or treat. Some of them include having costume contests or carving contests online, having a Halloween scavenger hunt filled with items to look for while walking from house to house and generally keeping the festivities in each individuals’ property.

Halloween parties should not be held, but if one is held, no more than 10 people should be present. Activities such as bobbing for apples should be avoided.

The document also provides an outline for parents / guardians who take children trick-or-treating. Some of the outlines include a limit on houses visited, wiping off candy wrappers upon returning home and consuming only factory-wrapped treats — not homemade treats from strangers.

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