For many San Antonians, Halloween 2020 will be memorable for all the things we couldn’t do this year amid the coronavirus pandemic. Herding hordes of kids from door to door, yelling “trick or treat” without a mask, swapping treats with friends, and stopping by that big costume party are not on the list of recommended activities from the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But many city residents took a creative approach to provide alternative tricks and treats for their neighbors.

A trend in Southtown on Saturday night was candy chutes, a socially distanced, do-it-yourself candy delivery system. The idea was to run a plastic tube or cardboard tube from the front steps – or second-floor porch in some cases – to at least six feet into the yard or near the sidewalk. When trick-or-treaters approached, they placed their candy bags at the bottom of the tube. Then, whoosh, down came the goodies. Some treat purveyors chose to deliver one piece at a time, while other residents packed little candy bombs into one zip-lock bag.

Clint Malloy (right) and Collins, 2, collect candy from a chute in the King William neighborhood on Halloween. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

“I will not be any where near the children,” said Ramon Lopez, who lives on Cedar Street. His tube was still under construction at 5 p.m. and he was working to secure the top of it to the second-floor balcony of his home.

His family members planned to wash their hands often and take every precaution, Lopez said, especially because his son has an immune deficiency. “We’re extra careful.”

Several candy chutes cropped up in the neighborhood in recent days independently of one another, he said. “I found out it was a thing afterwards.”

“Halloween is my favorite holiday,” he said. This year, he was dressed as an old, scary butcher.

The King William neighborhood is usually crawling with kids on Halloween. A steady stream of families started flowing into its streets around 6 p.m., but not at the same volume as in previous years.

Candy is passed through chutes to allow for social distancing during trick-or-treat in the King William nighborhood. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

A few blocks away on Adams Street, David Alvarado had a shorter chute from his front porch.

“I have at least 25 pounds of candy,” he said. “I hope [the kids] show up. … We’re doing it safely.”

Other residents chose to use the honor system, leaving baskets of candy with a “please take one” sign on their porches or near the sidewalks.

Elsewhere, other San Antonians found different ways to celebrate Halloween.

On Friday night, Bexar County Precinct 2 Constable Leticia R. Vazquez hosted a drive-thru “trunk or treat” on the far Northwest Side. Cars stuffed with costumed families slowly made their way through a gauntlet of waving clowns, vampires, ninjas, and other scary figures who playfully heckled the vehicles. Dozens of cars formed a line that snaked through the rows of the parking lot of a Big Lots store.

At the end of the line, a masked volunteer sent each car home with a candy care package.

Clowns scare passers-by in the drive-thru “trunk or treat” event for Halloween. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

On the East Side on Saturday, Councilwoman Jada Andrews-Sullivan (D2) hosted a similar “trunk-o-candy” and Halloween music mash at Martin Luther King Park to hand out goodie bags as residents slowly drove by.

She planned the event to “let the community know that even though the climate is different from where we were last year … that we’re still here for them,” Andrews-Sullivan said. “There’s still something fun to do.”

Candy and other treats were donated by the San Antonio Firefighters Association and San Antonio for Growth on the Eastside; the San Antonio Spurs contributed Spurs cookie-cutters.

“We have some family parties that are still going on, but we’re asking everybody to stay vigilant and stay safe,” Andrews-Sullivan said. With Thanksgiving and winter holidays approaching, that vigilance will be tested.

Councilwoman Jada Andrews-Sullivan (D2) hosts a District 2 Halloween Boo Thru event with treats and Halloween music for the residents. Credit: Iris Dimmick / San Antonio Report

Mayor Ron Nirenberg on Friday echoed that message.

“Be safe tonight as you celebrate Halloween,” Nirenberg said. “We can’t afford to relax regarding safety precautions. We all need to be disciplined. Keep masking up, stay physically distant from people who aren’t household members, wash your hands frequently.”

Iris Dimmick

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and workforce development. Contact her at iris@sareport.org