Fewer trick-or-treaters than normal were seen in many neighborhoods Saturday, while those who participated in the Halloween tradition found ways to ward off the truly scary thing about this Halloween: the coronavirus.
On Chadswyck Drive, Drew DuBose rigged 7 feet of PVC pipe to slide candy to children. He decorated the pipe with spray insulation and paint and affixed a fake skull to the end, giving the effect of a gooey, gory pipe.
DuBose moved his family to Janesville from Georgia this year, taking his 6-year-old daughter, Roxie, away from her friends, and then the family decided on virtual schooling, pulling her from the new friends she had made, DuBose said.
The family had always put a lot of effort into celebrating Halloween, and DuBose didn’t want one more disappointment for Roxie, so they decided to decorate the house and let her trick-or-treat, with a pole that had a big plastic hand on the end and an orifice where candy could be dropped into an attached bag.
“I’m like, we don’t want something like this to stop us because this is our holiday,” DuBose said.
DuBose’s first customers were the Gant family: Audrey, 8, Owen, 6, and Ava, 17 months. The candy chute worked perfectly.
The Gant family debated about whether to skip trick-or-treating, but they decided to go early and be selective about where they went, wearing masks and keeping their distance, “to keep everyone—and ourselves—safe,” said the children’s mother, Elizabeth.
Another chute started on the second floor of Ken Scott’s house on Stafford Road. Scott had lots of scary sounds blaring as he sat in the second-floor window wearing a hockey mask.
Many other homes left candy out for kids to take, some in bowls.
Donna Jaehrling ordered a display rack online that had clips probably intended for snack foods. She clipped Skittles and other candy to the device, which she figured would be safer than a bowl, where different hands would rummage for treats.
Jaehrling had a notable display on Center Avenue, with a 12-foot skeleton with glowing eyes as its centerpiece. She also had rigged eerie projections in a window and next to a makeshift graveyard. Another projector gave faces to three pumpkins. The faces moved as they made creepy noises.
Halloween came at a terrible time this year, as Wisconsin experiences a spike in positive COVID-19 tests and hospitalizations. Rock and Walworth counties are among those who said their public health departments are overwhelmed and asked residents to help with contact tracing.
One adult resident put the pandemic and the holiday together. Jim Terrill said he hadn’t had a chance to dress up for the past seven months, so he got his tuxedo out of the closet for Halloween.
Terrill was walking across the street, where neighbors had arranged a trick-or-treat experience in the park, when it hit him: “Huh, I’m Count Covid.”
Neighbors brought tables and treats, and kids went from one to the next, Terrill said. One neighbor brought a backyard slide and slid treats to the kids.
“It was nice to see the kids dressed and out,” Terrill said.