BERLIN – Council candidates said this week they supported the town’s plan not to endorse Halloween activities amid COVID-19 concerns.
On Tuesday, Mayor Gee Williams confirmed that the town was not sponsoring or endorsing Halloween in the community this year. The town will not close any streets for trick-or-treating.
“The town is asking residents who do not wish to be approached for Halloween candy and treats to simply turn off your porch lights or front door lights on Halloween,” Williams said. “We are asking those people who do choose to trick or treat to respect the preference of many residents to not participate. … The town strongly urges anyone who decides to participate to practice social distancing and masks, which should not be any inconvenience on Halloween.”
In a virtual town hall session hosted by The Dispatch Tuesday evening, candidates running for town council positions said they understood Williams’ decision. While some people may be out trick-or-treating, Berlin’s popular Halloween attractions, including Washington Street’s elaborate displays and the haunted house at Burbage Funeral Home, will not be open.
“I think cancelling Halloween this year, it is a reality,” said Tony Weeg, a candidate for the at-large council seat. “We’re going to do something different in our little neighborhood on Bay Street and I encourage the rest of the town to do the same thing in their own pod of people they’ve been hanging out with this whole pandemic. Don’t give up the spirit of these events guys. Just do it in a different and safer way and that spirit will continue on to next year, hopefully when we’re all back doing these things again.”
Jay Knerr, another candidate for the at-large seat, acknowledged that it was a tough decision for the mayor to make.
“I know that was a hard call for the mayor to do, but I understand it,” Knerr said. “I mean in our neighborhood, I get between 300 and 400 kids in that short period of time. That is a lot of people on the street. And that’s just kids. With parents on the street, and then when you look around the corner to Washington Street and there’s a thousand to two thousand people standing on the street, it is overcrowded.”
District 3 candidate Shaneka Nichols said her family was adapting.
“We’ve discussed it here at our house, that trick-or-treating will be held right here, you’ll probably go from bedroom to bedroom knocking on doors asking for candy,” she said.
Nichols said that residents should just try to be creative, as they have often done during the last six months.
“Think outside the box as how to maintain and create, tweak your traditions so that they fit the time,” she said.
Daniel Packey, the other District 3 contender, said his family too was gutted that Berlin’s traditional Halloween wouldn’t take place.
“There’s just not a possible way to do it…,” he said. “I’m afraid that there’s just nothing we can do in terms of public safety and health.”
Jack Orris, the only District 2 candidate, said that the spirit of Halloween lived on regardless. He added that the CDC had provided guidance in regard to the holiday.
“It’s just a way of creatively adjusting to the COVID situation,” he said. “I am disappointed too.”