Creepin' It Real: Halloween During COVID-19

Illustration by Maggie Wehler

Halloween is always a little spooky, and while this year’s conditions are certainly an improvement over the last, there’s still a more serious chill in the air. We can pretend the COVID-19 pandemic has ended, but RIT’s current masking policy, along with the numerous variants rampaging through the country, say otherwise. rampaging through the country, say otherwise.

Not many people would make a case for a total return to normalcy right now, but there has to be a middle ground, right? Using Halloween as a case study, let’s explore the ways in which you can celebrate while still remaining safe!

Low-Key Monster Mash

The list of things we really shouldn’t be doing this year remains rather long. The ragers and parties of years past are still basically out of the question.

That being said, there are various other activities, both on-campus and off, that allow for some fun and freedom while also remaining relatively safe.

Sandra Johnson, as the Senior Vice President for Student Affairs, has a good idea of what goes on throughout RIT. Athletics, residence and campus life and all things wellness fall under her jurisdiction.

While the university may not have any campus-wide events, smaller activities still spring up throughout Halloween and the greater fall season.

“Because we don’t have one standard, I think each year can be a little different, depending on what the interest is and what groups wanna take things up,” she said.

Some activities are more service-related, such as the College of Art and Design’s Glass Pumpkin Patch fundraiser, which benefits various programs across campus.

Others are more social, such as whatever the College Activities Board decides to do, like last year's pumpkin carving (and later, smashing).

“If Halloween happens to fall on a major event, that often gets absorbed into that program too,” Johnson stated.

This may be the case for RIT’s hockey team this year, as they have games scheduled for both the 29th and 30th of October. Dressed-up fans in the bleachers wouldn’t be too surprising at all!

And since RIT is very stringent in its enforcement of COVID-19 policies, these activities can be done with some peace of mind, as masks and outdoor venue spaces continue to be the norm for campus activities.

Looking more off-campus, Kenzie Vanacore is a fourth year English student and New York state native who loves Halloween and its associated activities.

“Rochester is definitely the place to be in the fall just because it’s so beautiful,” she stated.

While, similarly to campus, there are no city-wide Halloween events, there are still things to do and places to see.

If you’re looking for a nature-based adventure, Rochester’s numerous public trails, such as the Genesee Valley Greenway or those at Tinker Nature Park, offer wide-open spaces for seasonal enjoyment.

Various farm attractions also pepper the Rochester region, known for things such as apple cider, corn mazes and festive feelings. A special trip to a place like Long Acre Farm or Schutt’s Apple Mill can make for a lot of fun. Companies like Google even have tools you can use to determine the best times to visit these locations safely.

On the simpler side of tradition — whether you live in dorms or somewhere off campus — as a bonafide “adult,” you’re now at the age where you can dispense the treats!

“I enjoy putting together little bags of candy for all the trick-or-treaters, along with decorations and music,” Johnson said.

Trick or Treat Yo’ Self

Sure, all of the previously mentioned activities would definitely be fun, but we also all have our own comfort level.

Maybe you’re still seriously worried about the pandemic, or maybe you’re just not an extrovert! There are still plenty of ways to celebrate while remaining completely within your own living space.

With so many unique things to stress about in the past year, plenty of people have put general self-care on the backburner. Fall is considered the comfiest season by many. Why not try to imbue that general feeling into your normal routine?

The semester is in its early stages, and you still have a chance to eke out some work-life balance before midterms make things too crazy. Take naps and cook nice dinners while the opportunity is available!

More seasonal activities can range from something as simple as a daily walk in the crisp fall air to something as crazy as a 31-day horror movie marathon!

“Spread it out. Do Halloween activities throughout the entire month, so it’s not just that one day where you’re trying to cram in all these things to do,” Vanacore said.

There are also plenty of Halloween activities that you can do exactly the same within the comfort of your own home. Reporterwon’t tell if you wear your Halloween costume around the house!

“Even if you’re not going out to a party or whatever, you can just dress up and hang out,” Vanacore stated.

“Even if you’re not going out to a party or whatever, you can just dress up and hang out.”

Staying Scare-Free

Whatever you decide to do, remember that every activity has various risks associated with it, in general and in terms of COVID-19. What’s important is that you do your best to mitigate these risks through responsible decision-making.

“Some basics exist outside of a pandemic. If you don’t feel well, stay home, get better and see a doctor if you need to,” Johnson said.

There are also numerous other things that have become more common in the past year and a half, with masking being the most obvious. We have other tools at our disposal though, too.

“I have hand sanitizer that’s actually the spray kind, so not only can I spray it on my hands, but I can also spray it on items,” Vanacore said.

Of course, there are downsides to certain decisions, but it is up to each and every one of us to make the appropriate sacrifices to keep ourselves, our friends and our families safe.

“Until we come out of the pandemic, we have to remember that we’re in a pandemic. And so, we all have responsibilities around that,” Johnson stated.

“Until we come out of the pandemic, we have to remember that we’re in a pandemic. And so, we all have responsibilities around that.”

This Halloween certainly won’t be a normal one, but by being both smart and crafty, we can make it as fun as ever!