With the spookiest part of 2020 hardly being ghosts and goblins, many San Antonio families are preparing to celebrate Halloween in a manner consistent with coronavirus precautions. 

From Stone Oak to the South Side, parents across San Antonio neighborhoods have been swapping ideas for distributing candy safely or keeping little ones occupied at home, while municipalities across Bexar County have distributed COVID-19 safety tips in an effort to prevent another spike. 

Jennifer Pue, who lives in the Alamo Ranch area, said she isn’t too concerned about the coronavirus while trick-or-treating because she and her kids are taking extra precautions. Pue said she has briefed her children, ages 3 and 6, on wearing masks and on how to ask for candy safely. 

“We’ve been walking around our block every evening, kind of mapping out who has put up decorations and which houses might be participating,” Pue said. Pue said she’s talked to her kids about accepting only prepackaged candy, waiting their turn to approach the door, and not grabbing the candy but letting the adult place it in their bags. 

Encino Park mom Kate Fernicola said she won’t be taking her daughters trick-or-treating this year but has been talking to other moms in the area about how to have a fun alternative Halloween at home.

“We’re not going this year because I don’t want my daughters to possibly get sick, and I don’t want us to be the reason someone else possibly gets sick,” Fernicola said.

Instead, Fernicola said, she will be doing a flashlight scavenger hunt in the yard with her two girls and plans to eat candy and watch a movie with them afterward. 

Elmendorf resident Lela McDowell said she and her four children will be having a party at home that includes candy baskets similar to Easter, playing bingo, and watching movies. 

“We would rather just be a little more safe this year, even though we might go to a few neighborhoods to look at lights,” McDowell said. 

North Side parent Chelsea Fulton said she and her two boys will be trick-or-treating, adding she’s trying to keep the holiday as typical as possible for her sons.

“I think kids need as much normalcy as possible these days and the science shows that the pediatric population is at a way lesser risk for both catching COVID and having severe symptoms,” Fulton said. Her two young sons will be dressed up as Spider-Man and DJ Marshmello.

The City of San Antonio held a demonstration last week on how kids can trick-or-treat safely this year and how adults can help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“We’re asking parents to be creative this year,” said Dr. Sandra Guerra, interim deputy public health director at the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District. “Make it fun and entertaining to kids while still keeping social distance.”

Instead of having a candy bowl, tips included setting out a few goodie bags at a time on a table or creating a chute or grabber tool to distribute candy. 

A Halloween posting on the City’s website includes alternative activities such as a socially distanced outdoor costume parade, safety tips such as frequent disinfection of any table used to treat distribution, and trick-or-treating guidelines such as wearing cloth masks under costume masks.

The cities of Alamo Heights, Leon Valley, Balcones Heights, and Helotes have issued similar guidelines.

Data shows coronavirus cases in the United States are on the rise again, with the country reporting an all-time high in new coronavirus cases. Friday’s tally of more than 80,000 new cases in a day, followed by another jump on Saturday, comes as COVID-19 hospitalizations soar across the country. 

Texas, like other parts of the nation, is in a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic – with cities such as El Paso receiving emergency help from the state as cases spike. El Paso County saw more than 100 COVID-19 hospitalizations and nearly 1,000 new cases on Friday.

However, much of the state’s most urban areas largely have been spared the effects of the third wave thus far. Cities such as Austin, Dallas, and Houston – in addition to San Antonio – remain in relatively stable situations. 

Despite the pandemic, several bars and restaurants in San Antonio are still planning to hold Halloween events, including Little Italy Restaurant and Pizzeria and pickleball court-restaurant Chicken N Pickle

Little Italy will still be hosting its annual Halloween-time dinner theater in its Big Apple Room. The Company Theatre will perform The Mystery of Irma Vep on Thursday and Friday.

Lead server Dennis Ewing said the Halloween event has drawn big crowds in past years.

“We’re still going to pack the house, but it won’t be 40 to 50 people, it’ll be more like 30,” Ewing said, adding they’re spacing tables out more this year and will have sanitization stations around the room.

Chicken N Pickle will be hosting a family event during the daytime and a party for adults in the evening. 

Event coordinator Keith King said the restaurant will host both its events outdoors and will limit the number of people in accordance with U.S Centers for Disease Control and state guidelines.

The family-time event will be from noon to 3 p.m. and will have games, food, candy, and safe trick-or-treating for kids, King said. The evening event will be a 21-and-up rooftop party starting at 8 that will include a costume contest, drink specials, and prizes. 

“Everything is socially distanced, and all our employees will wear masks,” King added.

Lindsey Carnett covers the environment, science and utilities for the San Antonio Report. A native San Antonian, she graduated from Texas A&M University in 2016 with a degree in telecommunication media...