CHICAGO — Halloween is already happening at Angie Grover's house. The pumpkins are carved. The porch is decorated. The costumes are getting multiple trial runs, with Grover's younger son, age 7, even taking a scooter ride in full T. rex mode.
But when the big day comes, one thing will be missing: trick-or-treating.
"We're just not prepared to expose our family to the uncertainty of COVID," said Grover, 50, of River Forest, Ill.
In the lead-up to a beloved children's holiday, a sizable number of Americans are quietly opting out of trick-or-treating, handing out candy or both, due to COVID-19. Just 12% of U.S. households will trick-or-treat this year, down from 24% last year, according to a recent survey from NORC at the University of Chicago. The survey found that 25% of families plan to give out candy, down from 38% in 2019.
In Naperville, Ill., alone, more than 350 "No Trick-or-Treaters" signs have been picked up by residents, according to city spokeswoman Linda LaCloche.
The reasons for opting out range from an illness in the family to a more general concern about the growing number of COVID-19 cases in Illinois, where the seven-day statewide positivity rate for those tested is 6.4%. In interviews and Facebook posts, those who are not participating expressed sadness at missing out, but also confidence in their decisions.
"Health and safety has to come first," said Si 1/4 u00e2n Stevens, of Forest Park, the mother of 5-year-old twins.
As the chief operating officer at a nonprofit senior living community, Stevens has been very careful about COVID-19, refraining from eating out or socializing in other people's homes.
Stevens won't be giving out candy because she doesn't live in a house where she can do that while maintaining social distancing. As for trick-or-treating, she plans to take her kids on a costumed Halloween walk in the neighborhood. If she sees houses where candy collection can be done very safely, she may allow a little bit of trick-or-treating.
She's also planning at-home activities such as a candy hunt and a movie, most likely "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown."