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Columbia officials leave Halloween decisions up to parents, community members

The Town of Columbia will leave it to parents and the community to decide on Halloween trick-or-treating this year.

The Columbia Board of Aldermen recently discussed the annual holiday at length, including what they were hearing from parents and children. They also considered what several sponsors of annual Halloween events planned to do this year with COVID-19 casting a shadow over the Saturday, October 31 event.

Churches, businesses, health department, law enforcement and homeowners were considered in the decision.

Mayor James Cahoon said, “Young children have sacrificed so many things because of the COVID virus that I don’t think they should have to give up Halloween.”

He went on to call for good judgment and proper caution if parents chose to take their children trick-or-treating and equal caution to homeowners that decide to open their doors to the little costumed ghosts and goblins, stated a press release from the town.

Alderman Brian Owens said he had completed a citizen poll which favored allowing the traditional Halloween activities.  He said the board should, “Leave it up to the community and let them decide how to be safe.”

Sheriff Kevin Sawyer, who participated in the discussion, said his officers will have a strong and visible presence throughout town during the early evening hours.

Wes Gray, the Martin-Tyrrell-Washington Health director, sent an email with several suggestions for a safe Halloween.

“Avoid the normal bucket of candy that each kid reaches in and touches,” he wrote. “I would lean toward discouraging any type of trunk or treat events or large gatherings. I would try to make passing out candy as safe as possible,” he added.

Masks and social distancing are encouraged wherever possible.

The mayor and Board of Aldermen suggested that residents consult the CDC guidelines regarding participation in Halloween activities for ideas on lower and moderate risk Halloween activities.

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