Communities in McKinney are gearing up for Halloween night.
As the evening in question approaches, Christine Finnegan, communications coordinator with the Craig Ranch Community Association, said the association has received a handful of phone calls about how to handle the holiday in the midst of a pandemic—and she’s expecting more.
Finnegan said she expects participating in Halloween activities to be lower than in previous years. However, the association is suggesting implementing safety measures around the trick-or-treating tradition, including having flyers in front of houses that ask visitors to wear masks as well as using homemade “candy chutes” to deliver candy in a socially distant fashion.
While individual participation depends on the person, she said, the community is recommending following guidelines from the state and county and from other entities.
Kati Fizpatrick, lifestyle coordinator with the association, said the suggestions revolve around safety, but also include how to make it fun for children.
“They’re looking at it as a Halloween event, and they don’t necessarily notice when you’re putting in those safety precautions as long as you make them fun,” she said. “And I think that’s our job as the grown-ups to make it as normal as possible when we’re going into these events and making sure these kids have those safety regulations without it being out of normalcy. Completely shutting down Halloween after everything they’ve been through, I think, would be really sad on their part.”
The association also planned its own Halloween-themed community event in the form of a movie night that to allow attendees to safely celebrate the holiday. The “Spooktacular Cinema” plans involved a socially distant costume parade, separately-bagged candy and designated “family plots” in a makeshift graveyard from which attendees can watch “Hocus Pocus”.
Fitzpatrick said she felt people are still trying to make the season fun for kids.
“That’s why this event was so important that we made it as fun as possible, in the event that parents do choose not to take their children out this year, that they do have some event that their children can attend that involves candy,” Finnegan added.
For the Craig Ranch Community Association, the skeleton of event planning lies in safety measures.
“It always starts with the idea of how we can make this a safe event for our residents, and then we add in the fun,” Fitzpatrick said. “So that’s been our formula when thinking of events to do for the rest of the year."
The association isn’t the only community group to host an altered Halloween event. Stonebridge Ranch in McKinney recently hosted its “Ghost Walk Tour,” an alternative to the community’s usual Halloween event, said Greg Herbst, Stonebridge Ranch Community Association operations director. The event, which featured decorations and stations about 35 feet apart, hosted roughly 800 visitors over a span of six hours.
“So we didn't have crowds of people and were able to maintain social distancing,” he said.
As for trick-or-treating, Herbst said the association doesn’t typically control it and isn’t doing so this year. Residents will need to make their own choices on how to handle Oct. 31, but he said he suggested following safety protocols.
“There will be probably some trick-or-treating, but nothing as pervasive as usual because people are cautious,” he said. “I think some people are preparing and are going to have candy in their house when Halloween comes around so in case trick-or-treaters do show up, they'll have something. But certainly a different year.”
Some of Stonebridge Ranch’s 74 villages usually host Halloween get-togethers, he said, and some don’t do anything at all. If residents do plan something for Halloween this year, he said, gatherings of 10 or more people will need mayoral approval.
“I expect that it'll be much quieter this time,” he said. “I don't see many people trying to do a gathering.”