Danny de Gracia: How To Make This Halloween A Treat By Celebrating Safely - Honolulu Civil Beat

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About the Author

Danny de Gracia

Danny de Gracia is a resident of Waipahu, a political scientist and an ordained minister. Opinions are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Civil Beat's views. You can reach him by email at dgracia@civilbeat.org or follow him on Twitter at @ddg2cb.


Opinion article badgeFor now, Oahu appears to be headed in a good direction on Covid-19 with positivity rates falling.

With the Food and Drug Administration expected to approve the Pfizer vaccine for children aged 5-11 as early as next week, we may at last see the end of the pandemic rollercoaster ride and return to normalcy soon as our last coverage gaps close.

We are so close to beating Covid – but with Halloween just days away, parents should be cautious not to expose unvaccinated keiki to risky activities.

In this pandemic, I’m reminded of a line from the Ridley Scott film “Body of Lies” where the fictional head of the CIA’s Near East Division bemoans the War on Terror: “With every death reported, we have to deal with a public opinion trajectory that slides rapidly from supportive, to negative, to downright hostile. People just get sick and tired of moments of silence at the ballgame. They just want to be told that it’s over.”

Covid has tested and strained our community in much the same way. It’s an understatement to say that many of us are suffering pandemic fatigue from a loss of loved ones, strict pandemic rules, and numerous sacrifices or inconveniences. People just want to get back to having fun again and not worrying about diseases, and the occasional holiday or seasonal celebration is often seen as an opportunity for a much-needed release.

In times such as these, restraint can mean all the difference in the utilization of our health resources and the spread of disease among our most vulnerable populations. Yes, we’ve all earned the right to have a little fun after all we’ve been through, but with young keiki still not vaccinated against Covid, this Halloween has the potential to spread the disease and reignite another surge if we are not careful.

While we shouldn’t cancel everything due to the ongoing pandemic, the American Academy of Pediatrics has some recommendations for children under the age of approved Covid vaccination that give parents best practices for Halloween events that limit the risk of viral exposure.

Group of kids trick or treating during Covid-19 pandemic wearing face masks
Group of kids trick or treating during Covid-19 pandemic wearing face masks. Getty/iStock photo

Some of the safer ideas floated by the AAP include limiting trick-or-treating to smaller groups, making use of individually prepackaged candy grab bags left on a table or wearing masks and social distancing. And while this may at face value sound boring, Oahu parents who celebrate Halloween with their keiki can definitely make this work in a way that is still fun and safe for all.

How to avoid a viral Halloween outbreak

I get it that kids need to have fun and be out and about in the world as part of healthy development. As a GenXer, my very first Halloween was in Makakilo in the 1980s, and sadly, many of the things that we did growing up at parties or trick or treating over the years simply aren’t practical now in the middle of a pandemic. But where tradition fails, modern technology and new activities can take their place for a safer, but still fun Halloween.

1. Try outdoor, supervised Halloween parties

While sending unvaccinated keiki trick or treating door to door is a heightened risk to spread Covid, parents might want to consider hosting a small outdoor party that is socially distanced and where young children can be given prepackaged, individualized grab bags of candy, healthy snacks or safe toys.

In this regard, keiki can still see their friends face to face, they won’t go home empty-handed, and they can participate in safe activities with lesser risk of spreading Covid. If parents have a big-screen television or a digital projector, this is a great opportunity to watch kid-friendly Halloween movies (my personal favorites are “Garfield’s Halloween Adventure” and “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”), or for those with narration skill, you can even read books or tell scary stories.

2. Limit trick or treating to a small number of households with agreed safety precautions

Parents also can opt to keep the practice of trick or treating but perhaps restrict it to a smaller, tighter group of households that agree to certain safety precautions. This might include picking up safely packaged candy on an outdoor table that keiki can take with them, or having vaccinated adults or vaccinated teenagers escort unvaccinated children and collect candy for them from other vaccinated persons.

3. Consider remote Halloween activities

This may seem the most boring of all, but the safest of all events to celebrate Halloween are remote ones held over Zoom, FaceTime or other telepresence platforms. In this type of event, parents can make up for the lack of in-person contact by going the extra mile to prepare special gifts or treats sent in advance to participants, or they can create telepresence activities that maximize child development like completing puzzles, answering trivia, taking turns reading, or letting keiki show off their costumes and talk about what Halloween means to them.

I for one am not of the belief that Covid has to be an eternal plague that will somehow keep all of us restricted for the rest of our lives. If anything, we are getting very close to being ahead of the virus and on top of a lasting recovery here on Oahu, if we use the proper precautions.

Our unvaccinated keiki are still at risk for now, but if we can just hold out a little bit longer, we can get through this pandemic forever. Oahu parents should try as best as possible to limit the exposure of their unvaccinated keiki this Halloween, and let’s all have delightful treats, but no viral surprises, this weekend.


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About the Author

Danny de Gracia

Danny de Gracia is a resident of Waipahu, a political scientist and an ordained minister. Opinions are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Civil Beat's views. You can reach him by email at dgracia@civilbeat.org or follow him on Twitter at @ddg2cb.


Latest Comments (0)

Can we just do away with the Halloween trick-or-treating already? The effect on the health of our children is at stake here. Think cavities and obesity. Long-term Health detriments. I do not understand why the sugar tax was never passed. Diabetes and obesity are on the rise, in our entire Society will have to pay for it.

Scotty_Poppins · 1 month ago

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