Trick or Treat will go on…with a few new twists this year

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[October 22, 2020]     As the end of the month approaches there have been a good many discussions about trick-or-treating. “Should it be allowed, could we prevent it from happening if we wanted to,” and “if we’re going to do it, how do we do it?”

In the city of Lincoln the answers to the questions have come about via a network of discussions at city council and a meeting with the downtown business group who participate in ‘Trick or Treat with the Mayor’ each year. The general consensus appears to be that not only should it not be prevented, it should be embraced as a time to give local children a sense of normalcy and a source of happiness.

That same feeling is extended to the Lincoln Park District, where an annual Halloween Fun Fest has been held for many years. Though the park district wants to embrace the holiday, they also want to keep visitors safe. In order to do that, they have come up with a new and unique plan.

Lincoln Park District Halloween Haunted Trail
Friday, October 23rd
6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

This year, the park district will host an outdoor event where visitors remain in their cars and drive through a specially designed haunted trail.

According to Jaylee Swinford at the park district, there will be no vendors this year handing out candy. That set up would put vendors and children at risk.

Instead, park district staff are creating a drive thru trail that will feature fun and spookiness. As cars enter the park district, they will drive to the back of the property. Each vehicle will be greeted by members of the park district, and a bag of treats will be given to each child. Then the vehicles can drive through the trail and exit via another driveway on the property.

Children and parents are encouraged to dress up in their costumes so as to get into the spirit of the night. However, no one will be permitted to exit their vehicles and walk about on the trail.

The park district has provided a map to help the drivers understand how this year’s celebration will play out.

Everyone is encouraged to go out and take part in this new and unique Halloween activity.

Trick or Treat with the Mayor
Saturday, October 31st
10 a.m. to approximately noon

In the early part of October acting mayor Tracy Welch paid a visit to the Downtown Lincoln business group’s weekly meeting to talk about Trick or Treat with the Mayor.

Welch said he really wants to keep the tradition in the city of Lincoln, keep children safe and support the businesses. He turned to the business group and they made a plan.

This year, Mayor Welch will be set up at Latham Park from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. October 31st.   Families will start at the park with the mayor who will give them a map of the downtown area with participating businesses marked.

Families are then encouraged to go individually to each of the retailers on the map. They are asked to keep their distance from other groups and to not crowd the retailers who are passing out candy.

To safely distribute candy, kids will be asked to open their bags or hold out their baskets for retail staff to drop candy into their containers.

Protective face masks should be worn. The Illinois Department of Public Health issued a statement that a Halloween mask is NOT a suitable substitute for a face mask. The protective face mask must be worn under the Halloween mask. If this is restrictive to the child’s breathing, then the Halloween mask should be removed, NOT the protective face mask.

The IDPH also recommends that children should not be permitted to eat candy during the event and should wash their hands thoroughly when they get home before getting into their treats.

Another good suggestion for parents might be to have some alcohol wipes on hand for occasional cleaning during the route. These wipes are available at several stores in Lincoln.

There will not be a parade with everyone walking together. Because there will be no official gathering it is imperative that children be accompanied by adults this year.

It was also noted that there will be volunteers at the intersections to supervise and help maintain the safety of the families as they cross traffic.

As of this week, most of the downtown businesses have signed up to participate.

Trick or treat downtown to be from 10 a.m. to noon. It is an outside event. The business owners will be prepared to handout treats during this time period.

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Trick or Treat in Lincoln
Saturday, October 31st
5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Trick or Treat will be allowed in the city of Lincoln on Saturday October 31st from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The standard rule applies, those who wish to hand out candy should have their porch lights on, and children should only go to homes where those porch lights are on.

Lincoln aldermen all agree that they want to give area children something that resembles what they have always known at Halloween time. Kids have taken a big hit because they have not been permitted to do some things they have always taken for granted, such as going to school, participating in the Fourth of July children’s parade, or just attending a carnival or fair.

The city encourages those passing out candy and those accepting the treats observe some of the basic coronavirus guidelines. Maintain social distancing and as recommended by the IDPH, wear a face mask under the Halloween mask, or wear a protective face mask only.

Trick or Treat at the Don and Janice Sielaff home

The home of Dr. Don and Janice Sielaff and daughter Anna in Lincoln is a Halloween haven where children flock each year on Trick or Treat night for a walk through the elaborately decorated front yard to the porch where they receive treats courtesy of the Sielaff family. Each year hundreds of children go to the Sielaff home located on Tenth Street in Lincoln.

For the past few years, the Sielaff’s have petitioned the city for a block party status on trick or treat night so traffic could be blocked in front of their home. The family sought this for the safety of the children.

This year the Sielaff’s are not seeking that block party permit from the city. A recent discussion with Janice revealed that though they are not seeking that designation, the family IS planning on handing out candy on trick or treat night in Lincoln. Like many others, they are altering their plan from previous years so as to protect visitors and themselves from possible transmission of coronavirus.

Janice said, “Don had decided despite covid he was still decorating. Everyone seems to enjoy his decorations. He enjoys it so much! We have enjoyed sitting outside these past few nights just watching the cars going by. People have texted and shared how much their children enjoy the display. It’s about making memories and having fun too! Thinking we all could use a little fun.

“We hope people stay home and start their own covid traditions, but we are realistic knowing people will be out and about especially if the weather is nice. We will be donning our masks and gloves and plan on handing out treats from the fence. We will not be allowing people up on the sidewalk to our door, so they will have to view the display from the sidewalk that runs parallel to the street,” Janice said.

While the Sielaff’s are hoping for an orderly event where a line forms at one end of the property and passes by to the area where the Sielaff’s will be handing out treats, then proceeds on to the other end of the property.

There is no telling how many people will be out trick or treating on Halloween night, but there seems to be indications that if the weather is nice the numbers will be high. Based on the gigantic turnout at Gail’s Pumpkin Patch this past weekend, people are itching to get out and do something fun that does not remind them that we are in the midst of a pandemic. Even so, the reality is that we are in the midst of a pandemic and caution has to be practiced to protect our children and those handing out treats.

The community is reminded that it is best to go to the homes of people you know, and ONLY go to homes where the porch light is turned on. The porch light is the universal signal that trick or treaters are invited.

Families should travel together in small groups. They should keep their distance from other groups, wear their face masks and not eat candy during their trick or treating event. All hands should be thoroughly washed when returning home, and having alcohol wipes on hand for occasional hand cleaning during the night is good advice.

Homemade treats should not be handed out and parents should carefully inspect all candy packaging before children are permitted to eat.

[Nila Smith]

Illinois Department of Public Health Issues COVID-19 Halloween Festivities Guidance
The 3 W’s still apply – Wash your hands. Watch your distance. Wear your mask


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