By Keili Bartlett

Local Journalism Initiative

Although the prime minister and his family won’t be trick-or-treating this year, Dr. Bonnie Henry quelled early fears that Halloween would be cancelled in B.C. In the West Kootenays, locals have been using the BC Centre for Disease Control’s Halloween guidelines to have a spooky, yet safe, holiday. 

Listen to the audio interviews on celebrating Halloween safely here: 

Healthy Halloween tips 

“We really encourage people to look at what their Halloween plans are, to plan activities that are outdoors, that are masked and distanced, and that don’t involve parties,” said Dr. Karin Goodison of Interior Health. 

On Oct. 26, a new COVID-19 safety measured was ordered in B.C. for home-based gatherings to only include members of the household or their “safe six” friends or family members. Goodison said that people who don’t abide by the new order by having a Halloween party, , for example, could face a fine. 

She recommends keeping things local for trick-or-treating to reduce contact with others. Groups should stay spaced out from other groups. 

This year, many of us have added masks to our daily wardrobe, but the BC CDC warns against doubling up on masks. It is not recommended to wear a mask underneath a costume mask as it may be too difficult to breathe. Goodison said just a costume mask or a medical mask would be sufficient, as long as there isn’t a large hole for the mouth. 

While warnings about flammable costumes are a yearly reminder, hand sanitizer is also highly flammable. 

“We always see fireworks around this time of year as well, so don’t wash your hands with hand sanitizer and then light some fireworks, because that would be a very risky activity,” she said. 

Instead, wash your hands with soap and water, or let the hand sanitizer dry completely.  

Candy washing isn’t recommended, but candy can be quarantined for three days to allow any virus on the surface to die. People should wash their hands before digging into their treats.

Woman on a staircase sends candy down a pipe.
Morgan LeBlond demonstrates her home’s candy chute, which they built for socially distanced trick-or-treating for Halloween 2020.
Photo by Keili Bartlett

Local tricks and treats 

To say it’s been a frightening year would be an understatement — but now is the usual time to celebrate all things spooky and have some fun scares. 

Some have taken the BC CDC guidelines as a creative challenge. 

At Liz Babcock’s house, in the Uphill neighbourhood of Nelson, she said they usually give candy to 300 kids. The Trafalgar Middle School is nearby and a haunted house (now retired) meant many costumed trick-or-treaters would show up at the Babcock door. This year, they want to maintain the magic but they’re not expecting quite so many kids. 

Babcock’s husband works in tech, and the couple plans to 3D-print a spooky creation. While the Babcocks will stay inside, their kitchen window will transform into a monster’s mouth. And that’s where the candy will come from, in a socially distanced way.

“The extra creativity around it, I hope it makes it an even more special occasion for the kids this year,” Babcock said.

At Morgan LeBlond’s house, also in Uphill, they kept things simple. With a staircase from the front door, the family has installed a candy chute on the bannister. LeBlond said she or her husband will sit outside (with blankets, a propane fire and hot chocolate to stay warm) so that kids don’t come up to the front door and ring the bell. Instead, they’ll use tongs to send candy down the shoot and little ghouls can catch it with their bag. 

“Hopefully they think that that just makes it extra fun,” LeBlond said. 

“I listen to Dr. Henry when she gives her updates and there have been lots of questions about Halloween. She mentioned hearing about people coming up with different innovative ways to social distance and still hand out candy. She mentioned that somebody had come up with the idea of a chute, and we happen to have stairs up to our house so it works perfectly,” she said. 

LeBlond’s family didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving with other relatives this year, they haven’t seen the kids’ grandparents or spent time with friends during the pandemic.

“We want to keep this one as close to normal as possible,” LeBlond said on the holiday. 

Goodison said for people who have or live with someone high-risk, there are other ways to celebrate Halloween. 

“What I’d also ask people to consider: Do you really want to have Halloween at your house this year? What are the risks to your household?” Goodison said. “This is the year to turn off the lights and just have a relaxing time indoors watching a Halloween movie.”

On Friday, Oct. 30, students in School District 8 (Kootenay Lake) are invited to wear their costumes to class. In a video on the SD8 website, Superintendent Dr. Christine Perkins shared the BC CDC guidelines. She told Kootenay Co-op Radio that they shared the video to help educate students and parents during the pandemic. 

Students will have bubble-size parties in their classrooms. They won’t be sharing food, but costumes are welcome.

Perkins herself will be dressed a witch, and students will hear her cackles echoing down the halls.

“I want them to have fun. COVID-19 has stopped us from a lot of things that we normally do, and we just want them to enjoy themselves,” Perkins said.

The superintendent also wants to remind those celebrating Halloween to wear appropriate costumes that are respectful to all people.

Man with arms raised wears scary zombie makeup
The living dead stormed Baker Street in Nelson for Halloween 2019. Photo by Jamie Srigley.

Zombies skip Baker Street

The beloved Zombie Walk on Baker Street will not be gathering as usual this year, but the living dead are invited to submit their own videos to the Civic Theatre. Costumes of all kinds are welcome on the #civiczombie submissions. Marketing director May Tin said a prize is up for grabs to the winner, as people do their own zombie walks at home in their bubbles. 

Details for Zombie Walk Dismembered can be found on the Civic Theatre’s Facebook