It’s hard to know exactly what Halloween is going to look like for youngsters next weekend.
Traditionally, Oct. 31 is when children take to the streets dressed in an array of costumes, to collect as much candy as possible from neighbors choosing to fill the “monsters’” bags with treats rather than risk a trick or two. But like most other things in 2020, trick-or-treating may be a casualty of the pandemic, as many health officials have already warned that the Halloween tradition represents a possible “high risk” activity.
So, how will little ghouls and goblins get their Halloween treats this year? Cheshire High School’s Best Buddies Club has an idea.
This Saturday, Oct. 24, outside of CHS, the group will sponsor a special Spooktacular Halloween Drive Through. Trick-or-treaters can get dressed up in their favorite costumes and ride to CHS for some spooky fun and plenty of candy. The event is expected to last from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
The Spooktacular drive-through has been in the planning for about a month, said Josh Goldstein, a senior at CHS and the president of the Best Buddies Club. Recognizing that many might be uncomfortable attending traditional Halloween-themed activities this year because of the pandemic, and that most events would likely be canceled, the popular high school club, which pairs students with classmates — referred to as “buddies” — who have special needs, started to brainstorm ideas for possibly filling in the void.
“We knew things would be different this year (for Halloween),” said Goldstein. “It’s also been different because, usually, for Best Buddies and other clubs at the school, there are a variety of ways we can interact with the community. Now, with everything going on, we can’t do that as much, so this is really a way to gain some of that (community involvement) back.”
Finding volunteers was relatively easy. Most of those already involved in the Best Buddies Club enthusiastically signed up to help in any way necessary. Goldstein also reached out to other high school groups, asking if they would like to be a part of the Spooktacular. The response was overwhelming.
As of Monday, Oct. 19, just five days out from the event, Goldstein stated that over 20 clubs will be represented at different “stations” during the drive through, and more than 100 volunteers had pledged to help out … with the number continuing to grow.
“We are still getting people coming in saying they want to be a part of it,” said Goldstein, with a laugh. “We aren’t done getting new volunteers.”
If there was a challenge, it was figuring out a way to ensure that the activity would adhere to all the guidelines required during the current age of COVID-19. Goldstein explained that he and other members of the club spent hours in meetings with school administrators laying out exactly how the event would be held, with one of the issues being how exactly the volunteers would provide candy to trick-or-treaters.
“That was a big one,” said Goldstein. “That’s really the biggest part of Halloween. If you’re not getting candy …”
“We had to make sure everyone is wearing gloves, everyone is wearing masks, that the (volunteers) have limited contact,” explained Goldstein, “but we are handing out candy.”
Craig Goldstein, Josh’s father, is the owner of Cheshire Fitness Zone Pediatric Therapy, and has been an active supporter of the Best Buddies program for years, even before his son became involved in the group upon entering high school. When he heard about what his son and the group were planning, he offered to help in anyway possible.
“I really hope that people who come just enjoy some family time together,” said Craig. “This is open to everyone, not just people involved with Best Buddies, so we want the entire community to get involved.”
Goldstein echoed his father’s sentiments, stating that he hopes the trick-or-treaters who come dressed in their favorite costumes come away with a positive experience … and a lot of candy.
“I hope it helps the kids to feel like they had a little bit of that normal Halloween experience,” said Goldstein. “Just feeling like things are a little normal … that would be great for (everyone involved).”
The event will be held out in front of Cheshire High School, 525 South Main St. All those participating will be required to wear masks and adhere to social distancing protocols.
Candy will be handed out and select prizes will be hidden in certain bags. All proceeds will go to the Best Buddies program at CHS.
A rain date for the event will be Sunday, Oct. 25.