Weekly Wonder: Americans are choosing safer options this Halloween

BU News Service
By Paige Colley

While Americans are ready to celebrate Halloween, they’re looking for COVID-19 safe ways to do it.

An annual survey from the National Retail Federation shows that the Halloween spirit is strong this year, with more focus on activities that can be done safely, compared to 2019. Forty-six percent of respondents plan on dressing up, which is about the same number as last year. Almost as equal as last year also are the 18% of people planning on dressing up their pets.

Halloween pet costumes have been around for a while, with popularity growing in 2010 with the rise of Instagram. The Annual Tompkins Square Park Halloween Dog Parade, held in October in New York City, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year with a virtual gathering. Boston has also begun to host its own pet parade at Faneuil Hall; however, this year’s celebration, which would have been its eighth year, has been canceled.

The National Retail Federation survey also shows that more people plan to decorate their homes, with 40% of respondents saying they planned to begin their shopping in September or earlier. In response, Reader’s Digest reports that retailers begin to sell decorations as early as August as a form of subliminal psychology and to remain competitive.

One result from an interest in decorating has been the rise in popularity of a 12-foot skeleton from Home Depot that has made the rounds on social media to become the most coveted decoration of 2020.

Americans are also skipping activities that can’t be done safely this year. Plans to throw or attend parties dropped 10% while handing out candy and visiting haunted houses decreased by 7%. In addition, there was a drop in the number of people planning to trick or treat by 6%.

Earlier this month, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health released guidelines for Halloween activities, including avoiding indoor gatherings, leaving candy out for trick-or-treaters to grab themselves, and continuing wearing face masks. They also suggest holding virtual events and celebrating only with household members.

To encourage residents to follow guidelines, the City of Boston is hosting a drive-in Halloween movie series.

“While Halloween festivities will look different this year, we are proud to offer free, family-friendly entertainment for residents of Boston this fall,” Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said in a statement. “Our hope is that these movie nights can provide a safe, fun fall activity for Boston residents of all ages.” 

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