TRAVERSE CITY — Halloween will be disguised this year in northern Michigan as the pandemic upends spooky night traditions.
Traverse City is advising against trick-or-treating and other group gatherings, according to Traverse City Clerk Benjamin Marentette.
“Halloween is something that Traverse City has a long, fun festive history of celebrating. We love seeing kids in costume. So it’s really hard to make this recommendation,” said Marentette.
Marentette reported that Traverse City is following the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is thereby recommending people do not participate in traditional Halloween events including door-to-door candy gathering, trunk-or-treating or other group gatherings with people outside of their households.
Halloween-type festivities including kids diving their hands into the same candy bowl can make some holiday activities especially risky, he said.
“It’s just sort of this fun, co-mingly type thing and I think it would be really hard to keep kids focused on the safety precautions,” said Marentette.
The clerk offers alternative celebration suggestions such as movie night with the family, online pumpkin carving, a car parade featuring kids in costume or a candy scavenger hunt with family members.
The recommendation by the city is just that and it can’t be legally enforced, Marenette stated.
So, for those who do plan on ringing doorbells on the last day of October, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services offers several guidelines to make the event as safe as possible.
First, MDHHS cautions people to stay home if they are sick. The department also recommends people maintain six feet of social distance, use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol and wear a cloth mask. (No, a costume mask doesn’t count.)
The MDHHS advises those inviting trick or treaters to their homes to create six foot distancing markers from their driveways to their front doors, to set up a distribution table between trick or treaters and those handing out candy, and to give out treats in an open space.
No matter how families choose to celebrate, for many kids, finding a way to satisfy their sweet tooth is of the utmost importance.
That’s true for Esch Graetz, 10, who said he relies on holidays to supply his sugar-infused treats.
“I was disappointed when I figured out that trick-or-treating — the most way I got candy was going to be canceled,” he said.
So that got him thinking: What about a candy-filled pinata fashioned after a jack-o-lantern?
Esch called Grand Traverse Container.
The company helped him come up with a design, and the “spinyata” was born according to Esch’s mother Debra Graetz.
“I think that we proved in our backyard that this is a lot of fun,” she said. “This is a great way to be together as a family and not feel like there was a big miss-out.”
Grand Traverse Container produced 500 spinyatas. Two local companies, Cherry Republic and Horizon Books, agreed to sell Esch’s invention, according to Debra Graetz.
Esch said he also put his invention on Etsy.
“Someone from New York and someone from Missouri have bought them already,” he said.
Esch hopes his product helps kids experience a joyful holiday despite the circumstances.
“I want them (kids) to feel that it was still going to be an amazing Halloween. For some kids, it might even be the best one,” he said. “Everyone can have a good whack and still get some candy.”