So many things have drastically changed in 2020, so it should come as no surprise that Halloween will be quite different this year. Debates about which candy is best have been replaced with the question of whether or not it’s safe to participate in certain events and activities.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, traditional trick-or-treating—where kids don costumes and go house to house to ask for candy—will not be taking place in many places. But that doesn’t mean that trick-or-treating and other classic Halloween activities are altogether canceled.
The fact is there are plenty of ways to have a great Halloween with your family this year, including a number of Halloween events in the Charlotte area that are open to the public through October. Of course, the most important thing is that you, your family, and your neighbors have a magical evening while staying safe. Below, we’ve provided some Halloween safety guidelines, along with a number of spook-takular events and activities happening in and around Charlotte.
GENERAL SAFETY GUIDELINES
Early this fall, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released guidelines for how families can safely partake in fall holiday celebrations. Popular Halloween activities were classified into three separate categories: lower risk, moderate risk, and higher risk. Here are the higher risk activities that the CDC recommends avoiding in order to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus:
- 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
- Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgment and increase risky behaviors
- Traveling to a rural fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19
Additionally, Mecklenburg County Public Health (MCPH) has issued a set of “do’s and don’ts” for celebrating Halloween safely. Director Gibbie Harris stated that the guidelines were prepared in collaboration with the CDC, but she did not imply that there would be any penalties for choosing not to follow them. There is notably no mention of avoiding trick-or-treating, which suggests that MCPH is ultimately leaving that decision up to parents. However, there is guidance on how to participate in trick-or-treating and other activities safely. Here is a run-down of the MCPH guidelines:
- Carve pumpkins and decorate your home with your family; drive around and check out your neighbor’s decorations as well.
- Host a virtual Halloween costume party.
- Make individually wrapped candy available or individually wrapped goodie bags—wash your hands before and after preparing bags.
- Space out candy or goodie bags in a safe place outside, preferably six feet from your door.
- Wear your favorite costume and a cloth face covering to your favorite socially-distancing restaurant with your family.
- Make and enjoy your favorite fall beverage and foods at home with your family. Create a scavenger hunt in your yard for your own children.
- Wear your favorite costume and have a Halloween movie night with your family.
- Host or attend large neighborhood pumpkin carving or block parties, haunted houses, or festivals.
- Host or attend crowded costume parties or events.
- Participate in traditional trick-or-treating in crowded areas, self-selecting candy, or touching of candy or candy dishes.
- Go to crowded bars or restaurants that are not adhering to capacity limits, mask-wearing or other COVID-19 safety guidance.
- Ask the bartender for a drink after 11 p.m.
- Host “trunk” or treat events.
- Substitute a Halloween costume mask for a face covering or exchange masks or coverings with anyone else.
Keep in mind that while MCPH has not set these as hard and fast rules for residents, they have been thoughtfully put together by medical professionals and, therefore, should be taken into consideration when making Halloween plans for your family and neighborhood. If you have any questions or concerns about the safety of your planned activities, you can reach MCPH at (980) 314-9400.
A lot of the Halloween events in Charlotte that have become so loved by residents over the years have been canceled, primarily due to safety or budgetary reasons. However, there are still some ghoulishly delightful events happening around these parts in 2020! Let’s take a look at a few of those that highlight trick-or-treating:
Lowe’s Home Improvement is hosting free curbside trick-or-treat events from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Oct. 22 and Oct. 29 at all of their stores across the country. Along with various candies, every family that drives up will get a small pumpkin—both for free! You don’t need a costume to enjoy the spoils, but it’s encouraged.
Rock Hill is moving forward with its 37th annual downtown trick-or-treat event on Oct. 31 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. However, it will be a drive-thru experience this year. Additionally, from Oct. 12 through Oct. 30, local media stations and social media platforms will have costume contests for ages infant to 12, free prizes, and promotional giveaways.
This year, Krispy Kreme is encouraging customers to reverse trick-or-treat. Every Saturday from Oct. 10 through Halloween, customers who buy any dozen will have the opportunity to get an additional “Sweet-or-Treat” dozen for $1. The Sweet-or-Treat dozen is meant for giving to loved ones and neighbors and includes a special edition Jack-o-Lantern doughnut.
This Charlotte favorite is still on for 2020. On Oct. 31 from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., Queen City Brewing will hold its annual festival at Funtasticks in Pineville. Along with the “Trick or Treat Safely” campaign, the family-friendly event will be held outdoors and will feature various performances, food, and games.
If you’re into trick-or-treating, pie-eating contests, bake sales, family costume pictures, three-legged races, crafts vendors, go-karts, face painting, or pretty much any other kind of festival activity you can think of, this is the event for you. Just plan to bring a mask and maintain social distancing, as both are required.
GreenLife Family Farms in Concord will be hosting a family-friendly Halloween party on Halloween evening starting at 5 p.m. Free admission provides access to Halloween-themed movies playing in the barn, various games, and a Black Sabbath tribute concert by the GreenLife Family Band. Also, there will be food trucks and trunk-or-treat for children. For $5, you can set your own vehicle up for trunk-or-treat.
On Oct. 30, Promenade at Providence will be hosting a drive-in movie night. At $10 a ticket, customers will get to watch the movie “Ghostbusters” from the comfort of their own car. The movie will start at 7 p.m., but the organizers are asking that customers arrive by 6:30 p.m. Also, only 50 cars will be allowed in the space, so be sure to register for your ticket sooner rather than later! Moreover, dinners from The Q Shack and Cousins Maine Lobster will be available at 5:30 p.m.
OTHER HALLOWEEN EVENTS
Halloween is more than trick-or-treating, which is why you and your kids might enjoy some (or all) of these terrific Halloween/fall activities:
From now through November 1, the Speedpark at Concord Mills is pulling out all the stops in terms of providing families with fun activities. Want to race go-karts? Play on the Spider Climb? Go for 18 holes of Haunted Mini Golf? The Fall Festival at Speedpark has these and many more activities, as well as some uber-impressive decorations. You can either purchase tickets for separate activities or get an unlimited pass for $29.99.
From Oct. 1 to Oct. 31, the City of Kings Mountain and Mauney Memorial Library are presenting the “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” StoryWalk. This StoryWalk will scatter pieces of the classic Peanuts tale throughout a walking route in Patriots Park in Downtown Kings Mountain. It’s free, and you can take the walk at your own leisure, helping you to avoid large crowds. There will also be music, and you can take pictures in Linus’ Pumpkin Patch.
One of the Southeast’s largest corn mazes, Amazing Maize Maze at Rural Hill in Huntersville includes more than seven acres of giant puzzles. Running from now through November at $12 a ticket, this is a great outdoor activity that gives families the opportunity to show off their problem-solving skills while staying socially distant. Other corn mazes in the Charlotte area include Black’s Peaches (York), Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard (Hendersonville), and Country Days Corn Maze (Indian Trail).
Halloween Light Show
If you’re a fan of Christmas light displays, you might enjoy the Isenhour Lights show in Lincolnton. Open now, this light display will run every night of the week through Halloween—from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Expect to see all kinds of hair-raising lights and decorations!
Tunnel of Terror
Have you ever been sitting in your car in a drive-thru car wash, wishing that scary characters, flashing lights, and fog would surround your car? Well, you can have that by visiting the Tunnel of Terror Haunted Car Wash at Aquawave Express Carwash in Belmont! From now until Halloween, the car wash will morph into such an experience every Thursday through Sunday, 7 p.m. to 12 a.m.
This is more than just your average pumpkin patch. The Schiele Museum in Gastonia is presenting a special activity from now until Halloween, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday, for $7 a ticket. Along with offering a great selection of pumpkins to take home, the Pumpkin Patch at Schiele will include educational exhibits on the natural history, nutrition, and growing habits of pumpkins.
Pumpkins and More at Sunny Oaks Farm
Operating as a small family farm in Albemarle, Sunny Oaks Farm is open to visitors in October—every Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and every Sunday 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The farm grows pumpkins, flowers, and gourds, among other things, and they will be offering pumpkin decorating, story time, a petting zoo, and lots of other family-friendly activities.
Sure, things are going to be a little different this Halloween. But that doesn’t have to stop your family from having an enchanting evening. Be sure to look over the CDC and MCPH guidelines for Halloween celebrations, and take any necessary precautions to keep you and yours safe. Also, consider the events and activities that are open to the public in Charlotte and surrounding areas.
A lot of businesses, towns, and organizations are working hard to provide families with safe, fun options this year. Get your costumes together, grab your masks, and take advantage of all the opportunities out there!