See a list of local Halloween events below.
By CRISTINA JANNEY
Today is the day for kids to dawn costumes and go door to door trick-or-treating for candy.
But with COVID-19 numbers high in Ellis County and around the U.S., many parents are wondering if their kids will take home treats or a trick — a nasty case of COVID.
Steve Stites, chief medical officer at The University of Kansas Health System, said Thursday during KU Med's morning new conference knowing who is in your bubble will be important this Halloween.
The doctors recommended going trick-or-treating with people from your own household or friends you are with every day anyway. You should wear a cloth or disposal mask. Don't rely on your Halloween costume mask to keep you safe, they said.
Dr. Dana Hawkinson, medical director of infection prevention and control, said the interaction at the door to get candy should be fairly brief and therefore relatively safe.
Stites said, "Nothing is without risk. Certainly if you are someone who has illness or your kids have some underlying disease, you may think it is best not to do any trick-or-treating, but I think you can try to keep it pretty safe.
"We know that is an important tradition even amidst a pandemic. Sometimes you have to have a little bit of fun out there."
Stites noted people who want to give out candy are coming up with inventive ways to do it, including pieces of PVC pipe that the candy can slide through into a child's bag or bucket.
Hawkinson said candy givers should also wear masks, but the short duration of the interaction will likely mean both candy givers and trick-or-treaters should be safe.
Trick-or-treaters should avoid painting or using markers on COVID masks that will be covering their noses and mouths. These substances can be toxic. The Centers for Disease Control also recommends not wearing a costume mask over a cloth mask because it can make breathing more difficult.
Locally, Hays Police Chief Don Scheibler also recommended trick-or-treaters wear cloth or surgical masks to protect against COVID. Ellis County Health Officer Jason Kennedy was unable to be reached for this story.
Local Halloween activities today
Saturday, Oct. 31
• Mutts and Monsters — Municipal Park — 9 a.m. to noon
• Hays Arts Council Fall Open House —Hays Arts Center — 10 a.m.to 3 p.m.
• Sternberg Museum's Trick or Treat — 2 to 6 p.m.
• Trick or Treat at Big Creek Crossing — 3 to 5 p.m.
• Halloween Costume Contest with free Snoballs, 4 to 7 p.m. at Cerv's Convenience Store locations on 27th Street and Hall Street
• Hays Haunted Hotel — corner of 12th and Main — 6 p.m. to midnight
• Yugioh Phantom Rage Sneak Peek Weekend — The Gamer's Guild — 6 to 10 p.m.
• Yugioh Halloween Advanced Tournament ($5) The Gamer's Guild —7:30 p.m.
• Trick or DRINK at The Pear! — Paisley Pear Wine Bar, Bistro and Market — 8 to 10 p.m.
• Rocky Horror Picture Show — Union Pacific Park, 110 E. 10th St. —8:30 to 10:30 p.m.
• Halloween Costume Party — Sip 'N Spin Bar & Grill — 10 p.m.
• Trunk or Treat — VFW parking lot and corner parking lot at Ninth and Jefferson — 6 to 8 p.m.
The Ellis High School Halloween Candy Dash has been moved to 8 p.m. Sunday at the K-18/Legion Field. Someone will be taking home a $50 Amazon card.
The CDC also released some guidance for families on Halloween festivities.
If you are handing out candy
- Avoid direct contact with trick-or-treaters.
- Give out treats outdoors, if possible.
- Set up a station with individually bagged treats for kids to take.
- Wash hands before handling treats.
- Wear a mask.
Stay at least 6 feet away from others who do not live with you
- Indoors and outdoors, you are more likely to get or spread COVID-19 when you are in close contact with others for a long time.
Wash your hands
- Bring hand sanitizer with you and use it after touching objects or other people.
- Use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
- Parents: supervise young children using hand sanitizer.
- Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when you get home and before you eat any treats.
Higher risk activities
The American Red Cross in a recent press release listed the following activities from the CDC ranked as higher risk during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Participating in traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door to door
- Having trunk-or-treat where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots
- Attending crowded indoor costume parties
- Going to an indoor haunted house where people may be crowded together and screaming
- Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household
- Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgement and increase risky behaviors
- Traveling to a fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19
The CDC and other organizations like the Red Cross have also made recommendations for alternatives to traditional treat-or-treating
- Decorate your home for Halloween.
- Carve pumpkins with members of your household or outside with neighbors or friends.
- Walk from house to house, admiring Halloween decorations at a distance.
- Go on an outdoor Halloween-themed scavenger hunt.
- Visit a pumpkin patch or orchard. Remember to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently, especially after touching frequently touched surfaces, pumpkins or apples.
- Go to a one-way, walk-through haunted forest or corn maze.
- Hide Halloween treats in and around your house. Hold a Halloween treat hunt with household members.
- Hold an outdoor costume parade or contest so everyone can show off their costumes.
- Host an outdoor Halloween movie night with friends or neighbors or an indoor movie night with your household members.
- Have a virtual Halloween costume contest