The Borough of Fountain Hill will host a drive-thru trick-or-treat event at the Fountain Hill Police Department building in lieu of the traditional, door-to-door candy extravaganza.
Borough council members failed to pass a motion designating Oct. 30 from 6 to 8 p.m. as this year’s official trick-or-treat time and date at their Oct. 5 meeting. Council members had to weigh concerns about the potential spread of COVID-19 through the community while also maintaining some level of holiday festivity when coming to their decision.
“Everybody wants to have a good experience for the borough, and everybody feels for the kids who have been so impacted this year by all the shutdowns from coronavirus,” said Borough Council president Leo Atkinson.
Mayor Carolee Gifford pointed out that the CDC currently lists trick-or-treating as a higher risk event because of how COVID-19 could be spread by participants. Atkinson also referenced a recent modest increase in Lehigh County COVID cases, as well as the approaching flu season as reasons to discourage a traditional trick-or-treat this year.
Council was candid about the fact that they couldn’t actually prevent members of the community from organizing their own trick-or-treat.
“If people wanted to do their own trick-or-treat, I don’t think that we have an ability to actually stop them whatsoever,” said council member Will Rufe.
“I’m not talking about trying to arrest anybody if they want to take their kids around and thumb their nose at the CDC guidelines,” Gifford added.
To that end, a member of the community argued that setting a specific time and date would allow parents and motorists to know when children will be out on the streets. Council member Annamarie Jordan said that while she is against traditional trick-or-treating this year, perhaps setting up an official time and date would help make the event more organized time-wise.
“I felt that if we just kept it to this two-hour window where everybody understood that this was the time, it wasn’t so much a sanction as it was a suggestion that if you were going to do it, this would be a good time,” Jordan said.
Ultimately, council decided against sanctioning an official trick-or-treat in an attempt to discourage the activity.
“I think caution would be warranted in terms of not sanctioning a specific trick-or-treat night because of the risk of the activity,” Atkinson said.
Council then turned its attention to trying to come up with an alternative plan to provide the community with some sort of Halloween activity.
Some members of council suggested hosting a parade for children to get dressed up and walk around the town, however Atkinson cautioned that with the end of October quickly approaching it would be hard for the borough to organize any sort of large-scale event.
Fortunately, Chief of Police Ed Bachert had already come up with an idea to host a drive-thru trick-or-treat event at the police station. The event will be held Friday, Oct. 30 from 6 to 8 p.m. Residents can drive up to the police station and receive candy in a safe and distanced manner.
Officers will be doing their best to make the drive-up station fun and festive.
“I have great confidence in their creativity,” Gifford said.
The police department is also organizing a house-decorating contest. Residents are encouraged to spookify their houses with pumpkins, ghosts, witches and other Halloween horrors and then submit pictures to the Fountain Hill Police Department on Facebook. Prizes will be awarded to the best-decorated house.
Residents are also encouraged to donate Halloween candy for the drive-thru trick-or-treat by dropping it off at the police department, which is at 941 Long Street, Fountain Hill.
The Fountain Hill Fire Department’s popular “Haunted Firehouse” event is also being put on hold this year due to COVID, Fire Chief Derek Richmond announced.
“As part of our duties to the community, our firefighters risk exposure to COVID-19 on many calls, as it is often impossible or impractical to wear a mask and follow CDC guidelines regarding social distancing while working to save the life or property of a Fountain Hill resident,” Richmond said. “We do not wish to risk unknowingly transmitting the virus to other residents through contact at a Halloween social event.”
The chief provided hope for the future, and said the department is eager to interact with the community it serves as soon as it safely can.
“We look forward to hosting the Halloween event and other open house events again in the future, and we are working on ways to sell Christmas trees to the public in a safe and socially-distanced manner this year,” Richmond said.