COVID-19 hasn’t scared off the Oak Park village board from allowing villagers to celebrate Halloween this year. During an Oct. 6 meeting, the village board gave trick-or-treaters the go ahead to collect candy this year by passing a resolution to permit people to participate in trick-or-treating activities from 1:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 31.
According to Public Health Director Mike Charley, Oak Park has seen “rather stable community transmission” of COVID-19, making Halloween trick-or-treating possible.
“As long as we continue to see sort of that leveling off of the virus and not an increase, yes, we’re going to still recommend Halloween continue,” said Charley.
Should the COVID-19 situation take a turn for the worse in the next weeks, Charley does have the power to prohibit trick-or-treating.
“If we see a spike for whatever reason,” said Charley, “then of course, I would use my public health authority along with the board’s authority to rescind Halloween if necessary.”
Not all households should feel obligated to participate in trick-or-treating festivities. For those who do not wish to join in, the village of Oak Park will provide the households with red signs that will alert trick-or-treaters to move on. Households that want trick-or-treaters will have green signs displayed.
Trustee Susan Buchanan was concerned that stopping at 5:30 p.m., instead of 7 p.m. like other communities, mean that trick-or-treaters outside of the village would be unaware of the stop time and be greeted with closed doors.
“We have to be prepared to communicate that somehow,” said Charley.
Starting Monday on the week of Halloween, the village of Oak Park will erect signage to alert not only Oak Parkers of the celebration timeframe, but those from neighboring communities as well. East Oak Park homeowners traditionally welcome large crowds of children from the West Side for Halloween.
The designated daytime hours will increase visibility of masks and signs, as well as the ability to social distance, according to Charley.
“I just think it’s easier in daylight hours to do that,” said Charley.
Trustee Deno Andrews was not in favor of setting a different timeframe for trick-or-treating this year, stating his belief that children will trick-or-treat whenever they want regardless of village-designated hours.
“Kids are going to trick-or-treat pretty much whenever they want and they’re not going to stop at 5,” said Andrews. “I think it would cause more confusion to change the hours, especially the ending hours.”
Andrews felt establishing trick-or-treating hours overly bureaucratic.
Trustee Jim Taglia found the proposed hours favorable and did not believe the board should spend too much time discussing a trick-or-treating timeframe.
“There’s a lot of angst in the community generally when you talk about trick-or-treating for some reason,” said Taglia. “It’s like, life, liberty and the pursuit of Halloween candy and it gets to be a bit much.”
Noting that Halloween falls on a Saturday this year, Trustee Dan Moroney also supported allowing trick-or-treating activities between 1:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
“I think hours are reasonable, especially in COVID-19 times,” said Moroney. “I’m fine going along with what the proposed hours are.”
Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb said he did not want to imitate President Donald Trump who “gets in the way of experts” and that village staff and Village Manager Cara Pavlicek had done a “tremendous job” in handling COVID-19 locally.
“I could not think of a better general to fight this war for us than General Pavlicek,” said Abu-Taleb. “I yield to you when it comes to those expert decisions.”
The resolution to establish trick-or-treating hours as 1:00.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Halloween passed 6 to 1, with Andrews casting the singular dissenting vote.
In his closing comments before the meeting adjourned, Taglia cracked a joke about Andrews’ stance saying, “If anyone wants to trick-or-treat past 5 p.m., I suggest they go to Trustee Andrews’ house because he’ll be up late that night.”