A lifetime ago, the only masks in sight were plastic, nothing more than an accessory to a costume. The song ”Monster Mash” filled the air as kids raced through a Halloween wonderland, dashing from house to house. Small hands dove into pools of candy and tossed Snickers bars and Reese’s Pieces into already overflowing bags of treats. Hundreds of smiling faces welcomed thousands of joyous trick-or-treaters.
A year and a pandemic later, the masks will be real this time. To some, the imaginary haunted forests will be easier to face than the jumpscare no one saw coming: Covid-19. This year, candy will be shared from a distance, if at all. Despite the restrictions of celebrating Halloween during a pandemic, many South students and staff members are looking forward to the holiday with optimism. This year, 56 percent of South students plan on celebrating Halloween despite 64 percent having to change plans to accommodate the pandemic, according to a nonscientific survey conducted by The Oracle.
On a normal Halloween, junior Veronika Gliwa spends time inside with friends and visits haunted houses. This year, Gliwa will be capturing the spirit of Halloween outside and socially distanced. Gliwa explained that she and her friends are going to watch horror movies outside using a projector so that they can stay safe while enjoying the holiday.
“This year’s celebration will be different [because] I will be with a much smaller group of people,” Gliwa said. “We also have to be a lot more aware of how close we are [to each other, and conscience] of Covid-19 in general.”
Similar to Gliwa, freshman Riley Shankman also plans to stay conscious of pandemic safety guidelines while celebrating Halloween by enjoying the holiday with friends while remaining outside. Dressed as Strawberry Shortcake characters, Shankman and her friends will watch movies and, of course, eat lots of sweets.
“[I was disappointed] because I always love trick-or-treating and Halloween is always so fun because of all the stuff we can do for it,” Shankman said. “But it is still fun [this year] because we get to watch movies, hang out with our friends and eat candy.”
The pale moon peeking out behind a cloud, a crisp breeze rustling through the trees, television screens flickering with Michael Myers’s mask. This is senior Misha Romanov’s favorite part of Halloween. Romanov explained that while his favorite holiday won’t be the same this year, he is excited to partake in celebrating it by watching scary movies with a small group of friends.
“Everything is a diluted version of what it used to be,” Romanov said. “You get used to that stuff, really I don’t have any qualms with it. I understand that things have to be safer so I’m just glad I get to celebrate anything at all.”
Science Teacher Michael Stancik said that he is trying to stay positive in light of the situation and participated in his annual tradition of decorating his house. Halloween inflatables and tombstones fill his lawn, including Stancik’s personal favorite, a silhouette of a dragon that he created on the side of his house with rope lights that shine bright as Halloween nears. Stancik explained that he is not completely sure how Covid-19 will impact Halloween, but he is dedicated to making the most out of the day.
“I don’t know how it’s going to go,” Stancik said. “In the past we have approached about 100 people that have come to our house, we’ll see what happens this year. No matter what happens, we are going to be ready for them and hopefully everybody who comes will make it a safe and enjoyable experience.”
Although Stancik still plans to hand out candy this year, he said he is making it safer by attempting contactless trick-or-treating, in which he will put homemade cotton candy and prepackaged taffy apples in a bin on his porch for children to take from instead of handing it to them directly. Although the pandemic has made it more difficult, Stancik explained that he loves to make Halloween a special day for others, and hopes he can still find ways to interact with people safely to celebrate the holiday.
“Ultimately, [the best part] is interacting with the people,” Stancik said. “Whether it’s with the people stopping by and looking at the decorations, or seeing the families that come in with their kids during halloween and handing out some treats and seeing the excitement of the kids saying trick-or treat and that experience, that’s where I get a lot of my joy.”