SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - The Seminole County Sheriff’s Office is transforming its annual Halloween event into a drive-thru celebration this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma said the 3rd annual Halloween Safety Spooktacular is free and will take place on Thursday, Oct. 29 from 6 p.m.-8 p.m in a safe and socially-distanced way.
“We wanted to really capitalize on this opportunity to provide some sense of normalcy for kids yet do it in a safe way,” Sheriff Lemma said.
The sheriff's office is expecting 2,000 people to attend this year's modified event. In previous years, people were able to walk around the sheriff's office parking lot, meet and greet public safety officials and walk through Halloween displays like a haunted bus. But this year, families will be able to drive through the parking lot and see 19 Halloween displays from the safety of their car.
At the end of the route, children will receive one free candy bag.
“The people at the very end, we’re going to make sure they’re in protective gear suit. They’ll be wearing gloves and masks. All the bags will be pre-packaged up. They will just hand them, one per child directly into the vehicle, minimizing that direct exposure.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is also suggesting families find alternative, safer Halloween ideas because of the pandemic.
“The more crowded you are together at people’s doorstep, waiting for your candy to be passed out, or waiting to dip your hand into that candy bucket, that’s how Coronavirus spreads; through that close contact,” said AAP Spokesperson Dr. Candice Jones.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is classifying door-to-door trick-or-treating as higher-risk this year. Dr. Jones said some safe alternative ideas include having a candy scavenger hunt or virtual costume party at home or watching Halloween movies.
“I just encourage parents to get creative, have fun, and engage their kids in those ideas. But you have to be safe because we need to continue to reduce the spread of this virus. Winter is coming, flu’s coming and we know the numbers are rising for cases of COVID-19, especially here in Florida.”
For people who do plan on doing traditional trick-or-treating, Dr. Jones recommends wearing a face mask and handing out candy differently to help make it safer.
“Set up a table in your driveway and individually package those treats in baggies and the kids can just walk by and pick them up and you continue to wear your mask and wave and greet everyone.”