From Costumes to Candy: A Safe Halloween in Columbia

October 21, 2020

A Safe Halloween in Columbia

There’s no doubt that socially-distanced trick-or-treating is a challenge. Collecting candy has traditionally required our kids to be in close contact with neighbors. Creative costumes haven’t had to take face coverings into account. Scares usually happen in close proximity to one another. I mean, how frightening is a “boo” from six feet away?

That said, this is our reality. But Halloween could be a chance to briefly escape it, even while following health guidelines.👻👻👻

Howard County Halloween Guidelines

The Howard County Health Department has laid out some pretty specific guidelines for Halloween festivities in our area this year:
  • Avoid large gatherings, parties, and events.
  • Door-to-door trick-or-treating is not encouraged.
    • If you area trick-or-treating, it should be done in household groups, keeping physical distance between other groups and using flashlights or glow sticks for visibility. Homes are encouraged to leave treats outside.
  • Face coverings should be worn at all times (more below on this topic).
  • Trick-or-treaters should wash hands or use sanitizer between homes and after touching surfaces/objects.


We know it’s a bummer, but many of you may have already considered or embraced the possibility of not going door-to-door this year. The Howard County Health Department recommends only venturing out to pumpkin patches and hayrides (i.e. – outdoor fall activities) in small groups. Indoor haunted houses and other places where physical distancing and other mitigation strategies are difficult should be restricted.


CDC Costume Recommendations

The CDC does have some guidance on families who plan to go trick-or-treating this year. Specifically, the national experts want us to think about is making a mask part of their spooky attire. That does not mean that a costume mask suffices. Instead, the CDC encourages us to find creative ways to incorporate a cloth face covering into costumes. You should not layer one mask over another.

Safe Halloween guidelines

Credit: CDC

You can see some fun examples in the graphic below (notice the six feet of distance in between kids and their chaperones):

Safe Halloween guidelines

Credit: CDC

Here are five other fun, timely, safety-conscious costumes that incorporate masks:

  • Roll of TP – Dress in all white and wear a white mask. What a commodity 🤣
  • Flamingo – Attach a beak on your mask, dress in all pink and add some feathers if you’re feeling fancy.
  • Healthcare hero – Add a mask and cape to a doctor/nurse get-up and voilà!
  • Disco ball – Embrace the sequined mask and deck out in sparkles from head to toe.
  • Shark – Paint some scary teeth on your mask and sport a full “smile.” Add a fin, and you’re set.


The CDC also has suggestions for alternative Halloween activities that are low risk for you and your family.


Columbia Celebrations

Most of the great annual traditions here in Columbia will see some changes this year due to COVID-19.


The Village of King’s Contrivance is holding its Halloween event on Zoom this year. There’s still a pumpkin carving/decorating contest and a magic show on Halloween. You can find all of those details on the village website or by clicking the fliers below.


King's Contrivance pumpkin carving contest 2020King's Contrivance Halloween magic show 2020


While none of the usual crafts and games will be taking place, the Village of River Hill is sponsoring a pumpkin carving/decorating contest this year with different age ranges and prize categories. Photos are due November 1. You can find the details and some great inspiration on the village website.
The Village of Wilde Lake has a community pumpkin decorating contest and pumpkin patch walk planned for residents.  To enter, you can send a photo of your decorated pumpkin and your address to Wilde Lake Community Association Special Events Planner Rachael Strube at Winners will be announced October 26, so get those entries in! Village leaders will create a map of the decorated pumpkin submitted to the contest. Neighbors can use that to take a pumpkin patch walk in their neighborhood. 🎃
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