How to celebrate a holiday during the COVID outbreak has been in the back of our minds for several months now, but halfway through October, the days of celebration are bearing down on us.

Christmas and Thanksgiving will present gathering questions and problems, but Halloween is up first and it brings with it a whole host of ways you could be infected by somebody who doesn’t even know they have it.

I haven’t celebrated Halloween in all parts of the country (not sure how, or if, other countries celebrate the holiday), but from what I’ve seen around here, people get really close when it comes to trick or treating.

For many years, my Halloween consisted of two things. I’d wander around the downtown Madisonville area get-together taking pictures, then I’d meet the wife and we’d walk around the Sweetwater Mayes Avenue/Broad Street/McCaslin Avenue, etc. fest either by ourselves or with family members.

In Madisonville you had long lines of people slowly moving through town, letting kids get candy touched by a number of uncounted hands tossed into a bucket or bag, a lot of which would be eaten while in the town.

You also had cops and firefighters handing out hot dogs and other foods, a sketchy proposition for some people (germaphobes) to begin with, but pretty much unthinkable nowadays.

But you didn’t have a lot of right on top of you contact. College and Tellico streets in Madisonville are wide, especially with no traffic, and you could breathe and not have to continually say “excuse me” as you made your way around.

What’s considered the main celebration area in Sweetwater is a different story. The streets are wide there, but it’s not a very large area and the streets were packed so tightly you sometimes had to stop and wait for the clog to start moving again. I can’t imagine anybody, even the biggest MAGA supporter, wanting to get stuck in one of those clogs now.

If you just have to go out and collect candy from strangers or those you only barely know, you’ll be able to do that. County and city leaders have done nothing to address the pandemic, letting the state dictate what can and can’t happen (which is probably good if you know some of our leaders), so I’d assume if you wanted, you could do Halloween as you always have.

But if you’re middle of the road and want to do Halloween because freedom, but you know that some people are sick and you’d rather not be around them, the CDC has some suggestions on how to have a safer Halloween. Note, I said suggestions, not orders. Put your gun back in its hip holster and calm down.

Lower risk activities include:

• Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household and displaying them.

• Carving or decorating pumpkins outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends.

• Decorating your house, apartment or living space.

• Doing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house admiring Halloween decorations at a distance.

• Having a virtual Halloween costume contest.

• Having a Halloween movie night with people you live with.

• Having a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home rather than going house to house.

If nobody tells you what to do, by God, these are the high risk activities you can do to show you’re not a sheep:

• Participating in traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door to door.

• Having trunk-or-treat where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots.

• Attending crowded costume parties held indoors.

• Going to an indoor haunted house where people may be crowded together and screaming.

• Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household.

• Traveling to a rural fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19.

Halloween is on a Saturday this year, which normally would add even more people to the fray, but nothing this year has gone as expected. Of course, it could rain the entire weekend and solve the problem for us, at least as far as outdoor activities are concerned.

Unfortunately, rain wouldn’t change Thanksgiving or Christmas holidays. They should definitely be interesting.

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