Halloween 2020: Some tricks to safely deliver treats

Published: Oct. 31, 2020 at 7:43 PM AKDT
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This is certainly going to be an interesting Halloween as people navigate what feels like as many mandates and guidelines as there are houses to score some candy from. According to the residents of a few of the most decorated houses in Anchorage, interesting does not mean canceled.

The way trick or treating has always worked up until now is risky by the CDC’s standard. On their guidelines, traditional trick or treating made it to the high-risk category. Even though it’s meant to be outside and in open parking lots, “trunk or treating” also makes the high-risk list.

Shelle Shaw’s front door where she’ll be handing out candy directly to kids while wearing a mask and gloves.(Taylor Clark)

Shelle Shaw in Anchorage is someone who really likes to do up the yard for Halloween and other holidays. She’s got projections of spooky skeletons on the side of her house, a whole crew of skeleton pirates, and a ton of lights, inflatables, and other decorations that no trick or treater looking for a serious haul would pass up.

“We look forward to seeing all of the families that come by. We have lines of cars that come by and they stop and the kids look and they point,” she said. “We do this to make others happy and smile.”

For her, the traditional way is safe enough. Although she said she will be using a mask and gloves when handing out candy at the door.

“Halloween is outside. Trick or treating is outside. We’re supposed to be outside,” she said. “We want to see all the costumes, and people have to make their own choices, and our choice is to bring happiness.”

On the other side of town, Debbie Stockton’s decorations are also a beacon to candy-crazed-kids. Her giant Jack-O-Lanterns are cloaked in a layer of mist from the fog machine. One can barely see the door from the street.

Debbie Stockton’s display in Anchorage. Her candy is going in zip-lock bags that kids collect from the driveway.(Taylor Clark)

But they won’t need to be able to find it, because her candy is given out from the driveway.

“We plan on putting individual candy in zip-lock baggies and they can grab it themselves,” she said. “I think that’s good enough.”

She’s said she’s also going to keep some masks, gloves, and sanitizer handy while she watches the trick or treaters grab some candy from a bonfire out front.


If you ask the CDC, the zip-lock baggie idea is safer, but it still makes the ‘moderate-risk’ category. Those who go with this method are encouraged to make sure they wash their hands thoroughly before putting them together.

In Eagle River, Lark Shellhamer saw an idea on Facebook that a lot of us have and rolled with it. She and her husband made a candy delivery system from the front door, down over a dozen steps and to the bags of trick or treaters. She calls it ‘the safety chute.’

Shellhamer gives her safety chute a test run before trick or treaters get to give it a try.(Taylor Clark)

“It took us about an hour,” she said. “We went to Home Depot, got some PVC piping, I had all the rest. Wrapped it in lights, a little bit of tinsel, a couple of bungees, and a rubber band and it works.”

It’s way over six feet long and works as advertised. Shellhamer’s nine-year-old granddaughter, Charlotte gives it the trick or treater seal of approval.

“I think it’s pretty cool,” Charlotte said. “Normally you just knock on the door and then they give you candy.”

It’s important to note that the CDC doesn’t say anything about these kinds of socially-distanced methods in their guidelines for trick or treating. However, this is exactly the kind of thing that DHSS recommends for a safe Halloween.

They give some other creative ideas too, like putting candy on the end of a fishing hook and dangling it down to the kids. But if you do that one, they definitely recommend not using a barbed hook.

There are some other crazy ideas going around the Anchorage Bowl too.

We’ve heard about zip-line buckets done up with a ghost to make it more spooky, and one person even said he’s thinking about making an air-cannon with a low psi to shoot bags of candy across the yard.

It’s all about creativity and personal choice this year. If trick or treating doesn’t feel right to you, Stockton, Shaw, the CDC, and DHSS recommend simply turning off the lights to let people know you’re not participating this year.

Shellhamer thinks that people should participate though, but figure out a way to be safe and maybe get a good laugh out of it like she is.

“Why let the kids suffer? Like if there’s safety why not let them have fun?” Shellhamer said. “They’ve been cooped up since March. Go out and have some fun.”

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