BRUNSWICK — Danielle Arnett Keller and her family have always gone all-out with their Halloween costumes, whether they were dressed as construction workers, complete with a stroller-turned-bulldozer and child-turned-wrecking-crane, or pirates, with a Radio Flyer wagon-turned-pirate ship and baby-turned-parrot. 

Brunswick’s annual Halloween Goblins Parade has been a family-favorite event for years, she said, and when the parade was canceled last year because of a storm, the whole family was looking forward to its return in 2020. 

However, Brunswick Parks and Recreation officials announced last week that due to the coronavirus pandemic, the parade is canceled for this year as well. 

“We’re really bummed not to have it this year,” she said. “It’s so fun to see everybody’s creativity and just be a little foolish and out in the community.” 

Phoebe Camicella, 4, as Rafiki from the Lion King and her sister Hattie, 1, as a lamb at Brunswick’s 2018 Goblin’s Parade. Hannah LaClaire / The Times Record

A lifelong lover of Halloween, Arnett Keller hopes that if the parade is off, then at least trick-or-treating can still happen, as long as people are responsible, wear masks and keep the recommended six feet of physical distancing. 

Costume plans are still in the works, though there might be a dragon and a robot involved.

“For our kids especially, it gives them some sense of fun and normalcy and gets them out and it’s something to be excited for,” she said. 

Traditional trick-or-treating is considered “higher risk” by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, as is “trunk-or-treating” where treats are handed out front trunks of cars lined up in parking lots, as they can draw large crowds. Indoor costume parties and haunted houses, where people may be crowded together and screaming, are also high risk. 

However, there are ways, according to the Maine CDC, to celebrate Halloween with only “moderate” risk, including one-way or socially distanced trick-or-treating where candy is left out or lined up for kids to pick up without touching anyone else. 

Small, outdoor costume parades where ghosts, fairies and monsters are spaced more than six feet apart are also considered “moderate,” as are outdoor, masked and distanced parties. 

Officials caution that a Halloween mask is not a substitute for a cloth face covering, and wearing another mask over a face covering can be dangerous as it can restrict breathing. Instead, they recommend using a Halloween-themed cloth face covering. 

Brunswick town councilors are expected to make a decision about trick-or-treating on Monday, Tom Farrell, director of parks and recreation said. 

If officials choose not to encourage the activity, Farrell said the department is standing by with alternative plans, still in the preliminary stages, for locations around town to decorate and offer contactless candy-pick up for families. 

If the council does not make a decision or endorses trick-or-treating, Farrell said Parks and Recreation will stick with the already scheduled programming, which includes the following: a double feature drive-in movie in the parking lot on Friday, Oct. 30, showing “Hotel Transylvania” and “Ghostbusters,” an all-ages, virtual “Creepy Creatures Costume Contest,” and a Halloween pumpkin decorating event and pizza party for kids ages 12 and under, and the downtown family window painting contest. 

In Bath, city officials have decided not to cancel trick-or-treating but said police will not be blocking off Andrews Road, Cobb Road, Dike Road, Plant Street, Academy Street or Page Street, as they have in years past. 

“We recommend that people adjust their Halloween plans to reduce their risk this fall,” City Manager Peter Owen said in a statement. “Trick-or-treating is such a fun event in Bath and it is certainly disappointing that this tradition will look different this year. We hope everyone is able to adapt their plans to enjoy the holiday, while staying safe.”

Leslie Gallant, a Bath resident, said her 11-year-old son doesn’t have a costume yet (though it will likely be some form of sports figure), but he definitely has the “Halloween spirit.” 

As a middle schooler, he is old enough to handle any of the new regulations that might come with a COVID-19 Halloween, so if trick-or-treating is happening, they’re going. 

“If it’s a go, we’re all in,” she said. 

Also in Bath, Soggy Dog Design’s annual “Trick or Treat TROMP” will look different, with a scavenger hunt for families to do instead of the usual carnival and parade through the city. The event will still include an annual food drive benefiting the Bath Area Food Bank. 

In Topsham, instead of the annual parade at the Topsham Fairgrounds, the parks and recreation department, fair association and American Legion are planning a “trunk-or-treat” drive-through style event. Hosts will decorate their trunks in spooky or otherwise Halloween-themed ways and distribute individually-packaged goody bags for families. 

Police said Tuesday that trick-or-treating has not been officially canceled, but they will assist with the event at the fairgrounds however possible. 

Freeport, too, elected to cancel the Freeport business district’s annual Trick or Treat night.

In a statement, Visit Freeport wrote that the decision was made “with an abundance of caution and concern for the health and well-being of area residents, downtown employees and the community-at-large,” adding: “The decision to cancel aligns with both the specific advice on trick or treating recently issued by the CDC as well as the State of Maine’s ongoing guidance limiting large gatherings. The annual event typically draws more than a thousand children and adults to the community during a short window of time on Halloween night.”

With so many larger-scale events canceled, Sarah Singer, a Brunswick school board member and parent, said she hopes they can find a socially distanced, responsible way to celebrate Halloween this year, even just within their neighborhood. 

“I’d love to see something, even if it’s in a reduced form,” she said, recalling previous years when trick-or-treating was “officially” canceled but the neighborhood banded together to put candy out for trick-or-treaters anyway. Some sort of organized event might work well this year too, making sure the only health concerns would be from eating too much candy. 

Dan Ankeles, a parent and town councilor, agreed and said some of his neighbors have suggested a similar, controlled, neighborhood trick-or-treat. 

His oldest, who will be dressing up as a dementor from Harry Potter, also celebrates his birthday on Halloween. With the birthday party canceled, it would be nice to still be able to go out, he said.

To Singer, if kids are all touching the same surfaces at school, “it doesn’t seem any more risky to have them grab a bag of candy and come home and wash their hands after.” 

“It feels right now like kids are having to manage a lot of stress and anxiety and hard thoughts, all the time. They’re all living with this dark shadow of this virus,” she said. “For my kids, anything we can do to remind them they’re kids and get to have fun, that’s kind of important.” 

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.