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Celebrate Halloween safely

October is a special time of year — particularly for children.

Not only do the leaves begin to show their fall colors, but our thoughts start to turn toward the holidays, beginning with Halloween on Oct. 31.

Halloween has roots that date back many centuries to Celtic festivals that aimed to ward off ghosts. In the 8th century, the Catholic Church designated Nov. 1 as a time to honor all saints, and those observances soon began to incorporate Celtic traditions surrounding the festival of Samhain, with the evening before Nov. 1 becoming known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween.

Activities such as carving jack-o-lanterns, wearing costumes, and begging for and eating treats evolved with the holiday over time. Today, those time-honored traditions are things that children and many adults look forward to each year.

But this is 2020, and nothing about this year has been normal. Yes, Halloween will come and go, but we all need to keep in mind that any activities that involve interacting with people who live outside our own homes may be risky.

Last month, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced that the state would not hand down any orders related to Halloween activities, but he did recommend that residents follow guidance provided by the Ohio Department of Health. Those guidelines suggest that door-to-door trick-or-treating be avoided and that drive-through or other socially distanced events replace that community activity.

Still, many local communities plan to allow trick-or-treating this year. Martins Ferry, Yorkville, Wheeling and other municipalities already have announced their plans, with most choosing to hold the treat collection on Oct. 31.

Parents ultimately will decide whether to allow their children to participate. Many will do so. Residents also will decide for themselves whether to distribute treats. Again, many will.

If you do decide to participate in a trick-or-treat session in any way, please take appropriate steps to protect yourself, your family and others. Wear a face covering and ensure that your children do so, and not just a festive costume mask. Keep hand sanitizer with you and make it available to others as needed. Only accept pre-packaged treats, and consider ways you can sanitize those before they are consumed. Try to keep an appropriate social distance of at least 6 feet from others as much as possible.

You may also want to think about alternate ways to hand out treats — get creative with hands-free distribution devices or self-serve stations. And it won’t hurt to consider whether there is a safer way to celebrate.

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