Traverse City Neighborhood Revamps Halloween

“This year it’s not safe to do normal trick or treating.” – Fred Nelson, Central Neighborhood

It’s an annual tradition, but this year’s Halloween will look a lot different for many families.

During the coronavirus pandemic, one of the main pieces of advice has been about social distancing. And that can be hard when all the neighborhood kids are out and about in search of Halloween candy.

Traverse City’s Central Neighborhood is a hotspot. Not for COVID–but for trick or treaters. Central Neighborhood Resident Fred Nelson has lived there for 42 years.

“We joke about it being the Central Neighborhood tax. We keep Hershey in business,” Nelson says.Halloween 3

Emmy Schumacher is the Outreach Coordinator and Public Information Officer with the Grand Traverse County Health Department. She says, “We can’t tell people they can’t go out. But what we want to do is tell people if they’re going to go out there are ways to do so safely. Wear your mask, keeping your groups very small, immediate family is recommended. We’re also recommending people stay in their own neighborhoods.”

Halloween 4The Grand Traverse Health Department says this isn’t the time to get lax with following safety guidelines–with more than 200 new COVID cases this month.

“It’s not going to be under normal circumstances. We’re at the point where people are going to make their own decisions and how they want to go about life during this global pandemic.”

Of course, Halloween is big business in this Traverse City neighborhood. Quite literally. In fact, Fred Nelson tells us he usually spends $200 to $300 on Halloween candy. Instead, this year he’ll be leaving the lights off.

“You have to remember that normal trick or treating in this neighborhood is not normal. I’m in the short block here, where we just have houses on one side. We will have 800-some kids. If I’m two blocks west I’d have 1,200 to 1,400. While we can all be safe and wear masks and rubber gloves, it’s a mob scene. There are people from all over, they’re all strangers to each other. It’s just not a good idea to encourage it.”Halloween 1

It doesn’t mean Halloween is spoiled like last year’s candy.

Schumacher says, “You can use this as an opportunity to create new experiences. Like create a scavenger hunt for your kids in the backyard, or… downtown lights where people have their decorations up. Drive around with them and create that as part of your new memories.”

Halloween 6But whatever you decide to do, keep health and safety in mind.

Nelson says, “The vast majority of my neighbors are not planning to participate. We’re just going to turn the lights off and do something else.”

He’s disappointed because he enjoys seeing all the costumes, but prefers to play it safe.

Schumacher says, “I think we’ve all seen some things online where people have gotten creative… using chutes or slides for candy or a pulley system. And those things can be fun. We have to adapt to the times we’re in, which is a pandemic. But if you are feeling ill at all, do not hand out candy. And do not go out if you are sick.”