POLL RESULTS: Cancel trick-or-treating? Boston.com readers are split on the scary subject

"Is walking around infecting people to get free candy really worth it? I don't think so.”

Children trick or treat in Williamstown, Mass. last year. Gillian Jones/The Berkshire Eagle via AP

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Keeping with the generally polarized nature of society at this moment in time — is there anything we can’t disagree on? — it’s probably not surprising that when it comes to whether the wee ones should be allowed to trick or treat during the ongoing global pandemic, Massachusetts residents appear split right down the middle.

In the wake of Springfield’s cancellation of door-to-door trick-or-treating, we asked Boston.com readers, “Should Massachusetts cities and towns allow trick-or-treating this year?” With more than 1,900 responding, it looks like exactly half want to call the whole thing off, while the remainder are either all-in, virus be damned, or willing to take the risk if transmission levels are low. (After all, Halloween is supposed to be scary, but not that scary.)


As you can see from the above, 50% of our respondents deemed the risk too high not to cancel; 30%, meanwhile, fell back on tradition and wanted to see trick-or-treating proceed as usual. And 20% took the compromise route, advocating for trick-or-treating in towns with low transmission numbers, such as the ones marked in gray on the state’s handy hotspot map.

As for their rationale, more than 100 of you weighed in with specifics, and here’s what some had to say:


“Let the kids have this day. They have missed so much.” — Anonymous

“It’s completely outdoors, which is much safer. We should be encouraging outdoor activities. When we don’t allow them, we just drive people to unsafe indoor gatherings. Also, would be easy enough to do grab and go candy packs, to limit digging through treat bowls. I think it’s still appropriate for kids to walk around and pick up candy left on front doorways, no face to face interaction.” — Rebecca, Byfield

“My three daughters will be in costume and knocking on doors on Oct. 31 whether our town allows it or not. I’m not going to let them miss an entire year of their childhood, we are done with quarantine.” — Dan, Canton


“Close off streets to offer more distancing for kids. Put candy out on sidewalks and let kids take one. No knocking on doors or interfacing with residents.” — Anonymous

“If people don’t want to participate, turn off your porch light, it’s a time-honored sign. As long as the kids wear masks, and the candy is in a bowl away from the door, it should be fine. I’ve already seen some ingenious delivery methods planned for distancing!” — Anonymous

“Multiple scientific studies how COVID risk only increases after sustained contact of 15 minutes less than 6 feet away (it’s what triggers a contact trace). I don’t know if my kids can stand still for 15 minutes when trick or treating, the goal is to quickly go house to house. There’s NO risk when you look at the science — spend less than 15 minutes near people outside your family, use common sense to reduce group size, and safe sharing of candy to the kids.” — Anonymous

“We have to stop this. Our children will grow up hating how we stunted their education and social, emotional and physical health. Protect the old, don’t rob the young of their childhood.” — Anonymous

“If parents & kids feel comfortable, they should be able to trick-or-treat. Parents should wait at least 6 feet away from the door to limit the number of people the homeowners come into contact with and the homeowners should be the ones to drop the candy into the kids’ bags/pumpkins/whatever so the kids don’t even have to reach in. If someone is isolated, quarantined, compromised, or simply doesn’t want to hand out candy, their front lights should be left off and people should respect them by walkin’ on by.” — Anonymous


“You have cancelled literally everything else, let the poor kids have one night of fun in this despicable year!” — Anonymous

“How pray tell will Springfield prevent parents and children from joining in the fun — direct police to arrest everyone they see in costume, blockade streets and cul-de-sacs, force children to empty their goodies into town or city vehicles? Talk about nonsensical snowflakes counting on the apocalypse Halloween will bring. Enough is enough!” — Anonymous

“[We should celebrate Halloween] like normal humans…Our children’s futures are at stake.” — Anonymous


“Is walking around infecting people to get free candy really worth it? I don’t think so.” — Anonymous

“There’s a thousand other Halloween traditions families can do instead: decorating, telling ghost stories, pumpkin carving, visiting cemeteries, etc. You don’t need to do the riskiest tradition.”
— Sarah, Lynn

“Health before capitalism.” — Nancy, Worcester

“Can we just stop please until this thing is good and gone?” — Anonymous

“If they make us do remote school, they should cancel Halloween.” — Federico, Wilmington

“There have got to be creative ways to celebrate Halloween and provide some fun for kids, whether organized by city/town or neighborhood people. Outside and socially distant will be key if the weather cooperates! — Michelle, Medford

“If people were smart and could stand feet apart at the sidewalk, allowing 1 group to the door at a time, it would work. However, the U.S. seems to have lost all sense of intelligence and I could see large groups going up at the same time, in heavily populated areas.” — Anonymous


“Sorry, kids, our lights will be out this Halloween. It stinks, I know, but I’m not willing to take the chance. My plan is to make treat bags for the neighborhood kids.” — Anonymous

“No brainer people. Stay away from home, my kid and me!” –– Anonymous

“Since many people are asymptomatic, trick or treaters (and their escorts) can pass along the virus without knowing it. Many are not practicing social distancing so putting a bowl of treats out will just be another place for people to gather.” — Anonymous

“One hyphenated word: Superspreader-Event.” — Frank, Methuen

“I see why we should increase risk for the sake of getting back to work/schools, but it doesn’t make sense to me to increase risk of infection for this. We can wait another year.” — Anonymous

Plus this suggestion:

“Tricks only. No treats. Let the kids run wild like those Purge movies. They need it after being confined to their houses for nine months. But there must be rules. No guns, no oil based paint, only unnecessarily hoarded TP for the trees, and watch out for the little ones. If they can’t throw their eggs far enough to hit the old man’s front door, give them a hand. And everyone back home by 8:00. Have fun, be safe.” — Anonymous

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