College Hill closes to trick-or-treaters, Halloween displays still a go

Published: Oct. 14, 2020 at 12:14 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Wichita’s College Hill neighborhood will not be a hotspot for trick-or-treaters to gather this year. The neighborhood association sent a letter out to residents asking that they turn off their lights on Halloween and not pass out candy. The association said it made a difficult decision due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We want to protect not only the health of the children of Wichita but also continue their ability to continue on in education this academic school year. We are thankful to our schools and teachers for making school happen for our kids and want to do our duty to support them in any way we can. We are also committed to the health and well-being of the homeowners in our neighborhood, and those wonderful citizens who visit us each year to trick or treat,” said the neighborhood association.

It continued, “This year is not the year of anyone to expose themselves to the virus by engaging in a large crowd environment incapable of social distancing. Our streets will not be blocked off this year, and we will ask our homeowners to turn off the lights on Halloween night and not pass out candy.”

The association has invited residents to set up Halloween decorations throughout the streets of College Hill during the month of October. Visitors are welcome to dress up, bring their own candy from home, drive through the neighborhood and take pictures of their favorite decorations along the way.

College Hill, a Wichita neighborhood that has become popular for trick-or-treating, is changing...
College Hill, a Wichita neighborhood that has become popular for trick-or-treating, is changing the rules this Halloween due to COVID-19.(KWCH)

Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said grouped Halloween activities into three categories. Trick-or-treating was among the high-risk activities, along with truck-or-treating, indoor costume parties and indoor haunted houses.

CDC Halloween activity risk
CDC Halloween activity risk(KWCH)

In a usual year, the decorations in College Hill draw thousands of trick-or-treaters. The request to appreciate the decorations from a distance this year comes with the fear that the fun fall tradition could end in a COVID-19 hotspot.

“Everyone that loves College Hill and loves Halloween, it’s pretty sad,” said College Hill Neighborhood Association member Jennifer Farley. “I live on a blocked-off street and I’m pretty sad it’s not happening. This is not the time to risk kids and risk people for large crowds.”

The decorations are no exception to CDC guidelines, the neighborhood association decided.

In College Hill, resident Therese Blyn made dozens of masks for her pumpkins, reminding visitors to mask up and social distance. She said the decision not to hand out candy this year wasn’t easy.

“When they can’t trick or treat, they need something extra special this year,” Blyn said.

She encourages visitors to walk through College Hill on days around Halloween instead of on the actual holiday. While they won’t get candy, they can still enjoy the decorations, independent of large crowds.

Overall, homeowners in College Hill say the sacrifice this year is worth it to keep the community safe.

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