Cardboard plus COVID-19 plus creativity is making this Halloween different
Boo? Yes. Boo-hoo? Maybe not. This Halloween is going to be weird, indubitably. But that's just making a whole lot of folks think a little harder about how to make it work.
"I've been watching people kind of tossing out what they thought worked in the past. It's unleashed a whole lot of creativity," says Debra Ross, publisher and CEO of Kids Out and About, a website listing kid activities in about 50 cities. As such, she has a front-row seat to Halloween plans from Berkeley, California, to Bar Harbor, Maine, and she's tickled by ... well, I hope it was by what she's hearing. But maybe it was the ectoplasm?
In Chaska, Minnesota, kids can thrill to the Haunted Drive Thru. Some of us may feel we've been to plenty of those in our nonholiday lives (Can it possibly be scarier than whatever you're eating when you get 10 nuggets for a dollar?).
Meanwhile, Ross points out a few more oddball activities, including a zombie zip line in Schenectady, New York, and Medina, Ohio's Haunted Car Wash. For $20, you can get spick-and-span and spooked as your car rolls slowly through a soapy den of terrors at the Rainforest Car Wash. Good clean fun? Or a brushless brush with danger? Also popular this year is socially distanced Trunk or Treating, a newish tradition whereby a bunch of cars gather in the parking lot of a community center, church or school and make a big circle facing inward (a parking feat I personally could not accomplish). All the cars open their trunks, which are decorated profusely, and kids walk around the circle getting candy from each of the cars.
This has been billed as a "safe" alternative to Halloween, as if:
1. Halloween isn't safe. (It is safe, at least when there's not a raging virus. Sex crimes do not go up on Halloween. I've seen no reports of trick-or-treaters molested at the home of anyone on the sex offense registry that I can find. And I've never heard of a single child being killed by a stranger's candy, despite the fear.)
2. It's a good idea to encourage kids to go straight to someone's car when they say: "Come here, little child. I've got some candy for you in my trunk."
That being said, this year, at least trunk or treat in East Nashville is adding food truck vendors, cleverly mashing up outdoor dining and Halloween.
And then there are all the plain old parents and kids making candy dispensers that dispense from a distance. "The most common one is made out of PVC pipe and just a way to kind of slide the candy to people," says Dan Schneiderman, producer of the Empire State Maker Faire. But even if you don't have any PVC lying around, he adds, a bunch of toilet paper rolls taped together could do the trick.
As for more elaborate setups, "I've seen people work with Lego robotics making either conveyor belts or Rube Goldberg-like devices," says Schneiderman. "When they see someone coming they would press a button and the candy would move along and drop."
Normally, Schneiderman and his family turn their garage into a mad scientist's lab on Halloween. But this year, he'll be working on a candy-filled device modeled on the antibacterial soap dispensers that are activated by a foot pedal. He will observe the fun from his iron throne made out of the real star of the night: cardboard boxes.
Cardboard plus COVID-19 plus human creativity is making this Halloween different but not depressing. And that is pretty sweet.
Lenore Skenazy is president of Let Grow, founder of Free-Range Kids and author of "Has the World Gone Skenazy?" To learn more about Lenore Skenazy (Lskenazy@yahoo.com) and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.Copyright 2020 Creators Syndicate, Inc.