A return to trick-or-treating

Students and staff question the safety of trick-or-treating during the pandemic


Students and staff are gearing up for trick-or-treating with family and friends after the altered festivities of last year’s “pandemic Halloween.”

Many families that went trick-or-treating last Halloween saw houses use creative ways to pass out candy while still maintaining a safe social distance amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Last year before vaccines, we used masks and social distancing along with everyone around our neighborhood,” said Michael Sliwicki, a Jones Spanish teacher with two young daughters. “It was a little scaled down. Some of the houses would put a shoot or a slide out the window and they would shoot the candy down the slide; it was a lot of fun.”

Lucy Coulter ‘22 explained that the pandemic actually heightened Halloween spirits in their neighborhood last year as everyone wanted to make up for all of the previous losses caused by the pandemic.

“In my neighborhood, it was really magical because of COVID-19 everyone really came together to really put on the best decorations and the best candy,” said Coulter. “So unlike every other halloween before that, the spirits were so high to make up for such a bad year and it was an awesome trick-or-treating event.” 

However, some students decided to skip trick-or-treating last year due to the uncertainty and fear associated with large social gatherings during COVID. Marie-Claire Ching ‘22 sided against trick-or-treating despite her proclaimed passion and love for the holiday. 

“No, I actually didn’t [trick-or-treat] last year because I was warned by the people around me that it is not only socially but physically not safe for us to go trick-or-treating,” said Ching.

Halloween holds a lot of significance for not only young kids, but teenagers and parents that want the chance to celebrate with their loved ones. Sliwicki explained that his daughters even prepare their Halloween costumes months in advance.

“[Halloween] is their favorite holiday, for sure,” said Sliwicki. “Picking out their costumes, they start talking about their costumes in August. It’s a lot of fun to go and get the costumes, and the day of is a ton of fun. We love it.”

Some students say that seeing the return of safe Halloween festivities has elevated their mood about the pandemic as a whole. Coulter described being able to celebrate Halloween this year as, “a big win for their mental health.”

Others explain that trick-or-treating is significant to them because it fosters a sense of community  throughout the city and beyond.

“For me I think it was always a comfort, kind of like a routine,” said Ching. “I may not have gotten into the cultural aspects of Halloween, but I think that, as a community, being able to see people safely walk around and pass out candy and just saying hi to people you never see is something that I really love.”

As exciting as it may be to jump back into trick-or-treating, many students still feel worried about the pandemic and whether or not people around the city will continue to take safety precautions.

“I am definitely worried because I think some people might try to pull off their masks and think that it’s okay since they’re out in the open, but the issue is that you’re still interacting with people,” said Ching. “I think the best way for people to go trick or treating is to still have a mask that matches their costume.”

Halloween is a holiday celebrated mainly by young kids and their families, but the FDA has only approved children ages twelve and above to get the vaccine. Because younger kids will remain  unvaccinated, they are put at a much higher risk than teenagers and adults.

“I think it’s important even on holidays to not let loose of the safety precautions, especially knowing trick or treating and Halloween in general is celebrated by a lot of young kids who are unvaccinated,” said Coulter.

Sliwicki believes that as long as people stay socially distant, there is no reason to let the fear of COVID ruin the night.

“It’s 99.9% outside, so with social distancing, it should be fine,” said Sliwicki. “We’re not worried about it.”

In order to protect themselves against potential germs, Coulter’s family sanitized all their candy upon returning home from trick-or-treating last year, and they plan to do the same this year. 

“I think at least in my neighborhood, and I hope this can be set for the rest of Chicago, people still care about the cautions for COVID-19, but they care more about celebrating and having fun and finding the balance between those two things,” said Coulter. “That’s the sweet spot.”