Students and staff celebrate a favorite holiday in the midst of a pandemic
(l-r) Mila Fulton, Catie Ashman, Eva Potter, Charlie Fulton, and Owen Potter gather to trick or treat together outside of science teacher Stephen Potter's home in Holt on Oct. 31. The Fultons are the children of English and journalism teacher Michelle Fulton, and Ashman is the daughter of English and journalism teacher Sarah Ashman. Photo Credit: Michelle Fulton
Trick or treat?! While this is a saying most people are familiar with around Halloween time, because of the spread of COVID-19, some Halloween traditions were completely changed.
In the beginning of 2020, an unknown virus quickly spread throughout the world. This virus, known as COVID-19, has affected many families and traditions. Due to the nature of the virus, some Halloween celebrations were put on pause last year.
As of September 2021, 182.5 million Americans have been fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Millions of Americans prepared to celebrate Halloween with a more normal approach this year, even in the midst of a pandemic. Many of them were excited to trick or treat or attend parties again because most restrictions were lifted and vaccines were distributed. Halloween businesses prepared to get back on their feet and many celebrations happened over the course of the Halloween weekend.
Junior Taby Deleon and senior Ash Eddins were excited to start celebrating again, as Halloween is among their favorite holidays.
“I feel excited. I've always loved Halloween since I was a kid. I have some plans with my friends as well, so I'm feeling pretty good,” Deleon said.
Businesses were more ready than ever to get customers again. Stores like Spirit Halloween, who rely on Halloween as their main sources of income, have suffered greatly from the pandemic and lost many customers because of it. Spirit Halloween operated 1,425 stores across the country this year and employed 35,000 people for the season. That’s three percent more stores in 2021 than in 2020, according to reporting from Axios Charlotte. They were prepared to get more business this year considering that more people planned on having parties and gathering for trick or treating.
Since restrictions have been lifted, people were looking forward to taking a more normal approach to Halloween. Social studies teacher and parent Corey Martin was ready to celebrate Halloween like years before without COVID, but still wanted to make sure his family stayed safe and avoided any risks.
“I think we're still like, cognizant of risk. But it feels like this year will probably be more normal. I think we're still on the fence, like maybe the girls will end up wearing masks still, because they're not vaccinated. But otherwise, I think it will be more normal,” Martin said.
Now that many restrictions have been lifted, more people have been excited to start gathering and seeing friends again. Yet, when it comes to celebrating, some are still worried about safety risks. Most students and teachers gathered and saw friends while making sure they were taking precautions to avoid any risk of getting COVID.
“I don't think you should have to wear a mask outside. But if you're in a small area, or like, in someone's house, you definitely should at least be safe, like towards their family or just yourself,” Deleon said.
Counselor Nicole Lown agreed.
“I think if they're inside, I think masks should be worn, and then just to be careful. Obviously eating and things like that, you just want to make sure [with] proximity, you're not too close to people. Outside I think it would be alright,” she said.
Because of COVID, many parents were worried about the safety of their children and questioned the safety of trick or treating.
Math teacher and parent Sean Carmody decided to trick or treat a little differently this year, just to keep his children safe.
“I mean, we're just going to do it differently, like, they won't go door to door. We'll just kind of pseudo trick or treat at our family's house,” Carmody said.
In 2019, prior to the pandemic, roughly 24 percent of Americans went trick or treating. However, this number greatly dropped the next year, as only 12 percent of Americans went because of the pandemic restrictions and safety risks, according to a NORC Spotlight on Education poll.
Although we are still in a pandemic, costumes were a big deal to some people. Many were excited to dress up as their favorite TV characters, musical artists, and other things.
Eddins was interested in the different costume choices people made. They offer many different ideas for trending Halloween costumes.
“I'm hoping to see Loki, like all the new Marvel movies, maybe some Squid Game costumes, or like, some fairies, I hope to see some fairies,” Eddins said.
Many businesses that sold costumes and festivities that suffered from the pandemic were ready to welcome the public again. Consumer spending on Halloween-related items expected to reach an all-time high of $10.14 billion, up from $8.05 billion in 2020, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics. Most of these items bought at Halloween stores included a variety of costumes.
Deleon was interested in seeing more costumes related to the music industry.
She said, “I want to see some Rick and Morty costumes because of a Soulja Boy song. I also want to see maybe some famous movies or some people dressing up as album covers, or just musical references.”
(l-r) Junior Emma Thompson, junior Taby Deleon, junior Jacob Mcmillen, junior Cooper Lee gather to trick or treat as characters from the popular Scooby Do series. Photo Credit Taby Deleon.