British Columbia

Candy chutes, treat tubes and tongs: Vancouver neighbourhoods get creative for Halloween

In a normal year, houses in the busiest trick-or-treating hot spots in Metro Vancouver get hundreds of children to their doors, but health officials have said things need to be done differently to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Parents and communities say extra effort is worth it to give kids a sense of normalcy

A house is decorated with Halloween props including a tube to provide candy in a physically distant way in Vancouver, B.C., on Monday. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

From building chutes, to setting up obstacle courses, neighbourhoods are coming up with creating ways of handing out candy this year to keep the Halloween festivities going during the pandemic.

In a normal year, houses in the busiest trick-or-treating hot spots in Metro Vancouver get hundreds of children to their doors, but health officials have said things need to be done differently to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

In the Halloween-crazed neighbourhood of Douglas Park in Vancouver, Bruce Verchere says he had well over 1,400 kids ringing his doorbell last year.

"For me, it's one of the funnest nights of the year," he said. "So I'm hesitant to sort of let it completely go, but we're really going to try to do it as safe as possible." 

Verchere says he and his wife will be standing near the sidewalk so that kids aren't crowding on the steps leading up to their front door. They'll be handing candy out with tongs or tubes and wearing masks.

A house is decorated with Halloween props including tubes to dole out candy in a physically distant way in North Vancouver on Monday. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

In Vancouver's Dunbar neighbourhood, Sarah Johnson is taking distancing one step further. She plans to create a candy chute on the railing of her front steps to send treats right into kids' bags.

"If they're at the bottom of the stairs and we're at the top of the stairs and everybody's outside, I think it'll be fine," she said.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has said for weeks that Halloween doesn't have to be cancelled, but that it does have to be celebrated differently.

She says trick or treating is safe "as long as children are washing their hands, we have single packaged candies […] so they're not digging into a common bowl and maintaining distancing."

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives the latest COVID-19 update on Monday. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control issued a list of dos and don'ts for trick or treating including washing hands before going out and before eating, avoiding busy or indoor areas, staying in small groups and staying in local neighbourhoods.

"We need to really, really respect that some people don't want to play this year and don't want people coming to their house," Henry said Monday. 

For some housing complexes like Kathryn McKall's in Killarney, that means Halloween festivities will be reserved for the 55 families that live in the complex.

"We're going to do it a little bit earlier to deter people from the outside community coming," she explained. "We're going to respectfully ask that people don't come in and just kind of make it safer."

McKall and her neighbours are setting up different stations and obstacles inside the complex where kids will receive candy in a safe, but fun, way.

Kathryn McKall shows off some of the stations neighbours have set up in her housing complex to hand out candy at a distance. (Eva Uguen-Csenge/CBC)

It's all requiring some extra effort from parents and communities, but Halloween enthusiasts say it's all worth it to give kids some sense of normalcy.

"I think they're actually really going to remember this Halloween. It's going to be very special for them," said McKall whose three-year-old daughter will be trick or treating for the first time.

"There's been a lot of things that the kids can't do throughout the summer, and this is the only holiday you can do outdoors."

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