NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

A Halloween like no other

Now ten months in, it is no secret that the year 2020 has been anything but traditional for the entire country in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. With Massachusetts deemed an initial hotspot for the virus, towns within the state have come well acquainted with the prohibition of large gatherings.

As October arrived, people in Haverhill, initially considered one of the state’s danger zones, began to raise the question as to whether or not another tradition in both the state and throughout the country, Halloween, would also be heavily altered.

Associated side by side with Halloween, Haverhill citizens raised concern about trick or treat before October even arrived. Mayor Jim Fiorentini initially reassure his town there would in fact be a trick or treat, quoted in a Haverhill Gazette article on Sept. 17 that “Trick-or-treat is a wonderful time for kids, and whether it be car parades, leaving out candy without contact, each neighborhood organizing on their own, or something else” finishing with “”Unless our community spread gets worse and we have to cancel everything, it is our intention as of now to do something, so have those costumes ready.”

That enthusiasm would not last very long. On October 1st, Fiorentini would inform citizens that trick or treat would in fact not be a city-wide trick-or-treat, following Haverhill Board of Health’s advisory against the celebration,  according to 97.9 WHAV.

Lifelong Haverhill resident Christine Benjamin, 46, expressed her sorrow for the Haverhill children being robbed of what to them is the most appealing aspect of the holiday, “I feel really bad for the kids and parents. I did trick-or-treat as a parent for twenty-six years between my two children and my nephew when I was a teenager. It’s got to be so hard to tell your kids they won’t get to go out this year” said Benjamin. She says with her children now well past the trick-or-treat days, she still feels the spirit of Halloween in the excitement she gets from decorating the lawn, and the movies on TV.

Connie and Robert Smith, residing in Haverhill for north of seventy years, were also disappointed in the city’s cancellation of the event. “We understand that they’re worried about safety. It’s probably the right thing to do, but I can’t think of a way you can really explain to a little kid” said Connie. “I get a sense of joy out of answering the door and seeing the costumes, so I’ll miss it too”.

Robert favored the idea of leaving a bowl of candy out, stating “It doesn’t seem like that would be a super spreader. Leaving a bowl out at least just for the kids in the neighborhood, wipe it down once it needs to be filled back up. But even then you’ve got a number of kids all touching the same surface, there really isn’t any way to avoid all contact, but I don’t know, it seems like they can come up with something better than nothing”.

This idea has not yet been ruled dead, as individual neighborhoods may be allowed to host only their own residents.

In an interview with Alicia Russell, NECC student and mother of three, says she planned on sitting this one out even before Fiorentini cancelled the event. “Only one of my kids is in the age range that he wanted to go. But working in the hospital, I never wanted to take a chance of getting it from my son or anyone else and then putting the people at work or the patients at risk.”

Russell is working hard o become a nurse through the NECC program.

She added “we plan on coming up with an idea like Easter, hiding Candy around the house or outside if the weather is nice. We don’t want him to keep having things taken from him from this whole thing that he, or any kid for that matter, can’t fully understand.”