It doesn’t take the clichéd rocket scientist to appreciate just how much havoc the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked this year with local major yearly events like TrailFest in Gilbert and the Hatfield McCoy Marathon in Williamson.
These are traditionally held events that, prior to 2020, were always considered givens but this year had to be cancelled or drastically altered.
That is why officials in the county’s five municipalities again find themselves scrambling to decide on whether the next big event — Halloween — can be modified to accommodate safety for both children and adults or simply too much of a risk for everyone and, like so many others this year, also warrant cancellation or modification.
For those adults and kids wanting to participate, last week the Mingo County Commission set Saturday, Oct. 31, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., as the day and time for Trick-or-Treat in all areas of the county except the five municipalities. The Commission left the decision up to each township as to whether respective officials wanted to make their own readjustments to Trick-or-Treat this year or cancel it altogether.
Considering at the time there remained a little more than three weeks left until the popular holiday, it again wasn’t unexpected — particularly by Kermit officials — that this specific topic would end up being the main focus of discussion during the town’s regular council meeting held Monday, Oct. 12.
While several options were exchanged, by meeting’s end council still hadn’t made a final decision on which option was the best one for Kermit to take.
Dr. J. W. Endicott, a Kermit physician and council member, began the discussion by saying whatever council decided to do Trick-or-Treat had to be drastically altered if held at all.
“Here’s what I think, and it’s just not me…the Centers for Disease Control, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the head of Infectious Diseases at U.K., believe it’s high risk to the kids and parents and people giving out candy,” he said.
“We need to figure out some way to do it, but I don’t think the traditional way is the right one…it’s got to be different this year.”
Rather than traditional door-to-door, Trunk-or-Treat, or even drive-thru events such as the one Williamson chose, Endicott suggested that it be a walk-thru event held at the park where masks and social distancing, as well as being in a fixed location where a limited number of people would be handling treat bags, could be better managed.
Due to a very high volume of kids and parents who typically come to Kermit each year to trick-or-treat, however, other council members, including Mayor Charles Sparks, expressed concerns that it would be very difficult to maintain CDC guidelines at the park even by holding what might be considered an otherwise ideal walk-thru event.
“I think there’s a very good chance you would end up having parents congregating and talking and, with kids being kids, a lot of them would very likely be running about after they receive their candy…I just think there’s a good chance it would not be as structured and safe as it would need it to be,” Sparks said.
Although no final decision was made during the meeting, Sparks issued a Facebook post late Tuesday saying the town had decided to allow door-to-door trick-or-treat, with conditions.
“This hasn’t been an easy decision, especially with all that’s happening,” Sparks wrote in the post. “But everyone must follow all CDC guidelines … both grown-ups and children must wear a mask.
“If you want to participate, please do and do it safely. If I may suggest, put your candy in individual small bags, and place them in a container so that only kids are handling the treats. The least number of hands touching the treats the better.”
Sparks additionally said all households not wanting to participate could indicate so by not having their porch lights on.
Sparks said Trick-or-Trick in Kermit has been scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 31, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.