It may seem counterintuitive to trust a company like Hershey with advice about whether it’s safe to go trick-or-treating this year. They do have some serious skin in that game, after all, to the tune of 10 percent of their annual sales. But the famous candy company has launched a website that could be helpful for parents who will be trying to decide whether to send their kids door-to-door this year—or how to celebrate safely in other ways.
The main tool embedded on the new site is a map that actually comes from policy and public health experts convened by the Harvard Global Health Institute and the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics—not Hershey itself. The map enables users to look up case numbers and risk levels for each state and county with seven-day rolling averages of daily new confirmed cases and daily cases per 100,000 people. Based on those numbers, a county’s risk is colored-coded as green, yellow, orange, or red.
What Hershey (and the Halloween & Costume Association) then do is offer suggestions for how families could celebrate based on the “color” of the county they live in. Here are a few examples of their ideas.
Green (less than 1 case per 100,000 people)
- Trick-or-treating (while adhering to official guidelines and with safety measures in place).
- Trunk-or-treating to minimize the close quarters of front pathways or porches.
- A socially distanced neighborhood costume party in a space where families can spread out, such as a cul-de-sac.
Yellow (1-9 cases per 100,000 people)
- Trick-or-treating (with caveats, including adhering to safety guidelines and only visiting homes with safety measures in place).
- Yeet the Treats—like a parade where people on floats toss candy to spectators, but in reverse; the kids walk (distanced) up the sidewalk while homeowners yeet the candy from six feet away.
- Fairytale Forest: “Plan a path through neighboring woods or a park and light it up with glow sticks, flashlights and more. Line the trail with Halloween décor, props, candy and surprises. Trees can be tied with ribbons to help follow social distance guidelines.”
Orange (10-24 cases per 100,000)
- Trick-or-Treat “drive-by;” get costumed-up, drive by the homes of friends and family while honking and/or delivering treats in a socially distanced way (such as by dropping them in the mailbox).
- Costume Week—have the whole family dress up as different characters all week long and/or host a virtual costume party with friends.
Red (25+ cases per 100,000)
- Zoom parties with games, scary stories, and a costume contest.
- A family costume dinner party, in which everyone stays in character for the entire meal.
- Smash up a Halloween piñata in the backyard to satisfy their candy cravings.
Time for the caveats! Whatever you decide to do as a family, staying safe, masked, and socially distanced should be the priority. This map and website alone should not make the decision for you; you’ll also need to listen to what community leaders in your area are saying about parades, trick-or-treating, and other events.
And finally, what this map says today is not indicative of what the situation will be in your community on Halloween night. Bookmark it now and refer back to it later. As we’ve seen, cases can spike in different areas at different times, and it’s more likely to get worse than better this fall. Stay informed about what is happening in your community and act accordingly, using this site to help brainstorm new safe, fun ways to celebrate the holiday with your kids.
Meet the smartest parents on Earth! Join our parenting Facebook group.