In a definitive answer to the status of Halloween’s hallmark event for children, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood Commander Col. Jeff Paine announced via post-wide memorandum that Fort Leonard Wood will indeed hold neighborhood trick-or-treating this year from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31 — albeit with some noticeable changes.
According to the memo, all celebrations on the post are limited to Department of Defense ID cardholders. To mitigate COVID-19 exposure, Paine encouraged community members to implement extra safety practices, such as individual, pre-wrapped goodie bags.
Paine added those with underlying health conditions — and those whose loved ones have them — should reconsider putting themselves at higher risk.
“If you and your family choose not to hand out treats from your home, please indicate this by turning your porch light off,” Paine said in the memo. “If you, or any of your family members, are more susceptible to COVID-19 complications, it is strongly advised that you plan a family event at home (rather than) risk exposure from contact with other personnel.”
While neighborhood trick-or-treating occurs outdoors, he advised groups should observe 6 feet of distance apart from each other.
“All adults and children over age 6 should wear a cloth mask,” Paine added, reminding would-be ghosts, ghouls and goblins that costume masks are not an acceptable substitute for proper protective equipment.
These pandemic-specific changes come in addition to the typical precautions that should be taken around Halloween, Garrison officials said.
“One of our biggest hazards during this event would be a vehicle-to-pedestrian accident,” said James Stewart, chief of police, Law Enforcement Division, Directorate of Emergency Services. “We would like to recommend motorists decrease their speed below the posted speed limit during these hours due to all the children and parents walking on or near roadways.”
Stewart said there will be a traffic-control point at the entrance of the Eagle Point neighborhood — which becomes easily congested and could otherwise pose a risk to emergency vehicles, if needed.
“The traffic-control point is there to keep vehicles of non-residents of Eagle Point housing out of the area during trick or treat,” he said. “This reduces the amount of motor vehicles.”
The Safety Office also reminded families to stay vigilant during the festivities.
“Everyone loves a good scare on Halloween, but not when it comes to the safety of those little trick-or-treaters,” said Anthony Riley with the Safety Office. “There are lots of easy things parents and kids can do to stay safe on the spookiest of holidays.”
The following are tips from the Safety Office for a safer spooky holiday:
— Carry glow sticks or flashlights; use reflective tape or stickers on persons, and wear light colors to help kids see and be seen by drivers.
— Slow down and be alert. Kids are excited on Halloween and may dart into the street. Turn on headlights early in the day to spot kids from further away.
— Remind kids to cross at designated areas (corners or crosswalks) and to look both ways before crossing.
— Only walk on sidewalks whenever possible, or on the far edge of the road facing traffic to stay safe.
— Eat only factory-wrapped treats. All items received during trick-or-treating events should be checked by an adult.
— When selecting a costume, make sure it is the right size to prevent trips and falls. Choose face paint over masks when possible since masks can limit children’s vision.
As is the case with every year, officers from the Directorate of Emergency Services will patrol the neighborhoods during trick-or-treating hours, the memo confirmed.
The installation will also have what it calls a safer alternative — a drive-through trick-or-treat event Oct. 30 at the Main Post Exchange parking lot. Set times will be announced and published as they become available here.
Participants will be required to wear masks and distance as much as possible while distributing treats. To register an organization as a participant, contact David Jimenez with the Post Exchange at 573.329.2200 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on Halloween safety, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life¬coping/holidays.html#halloween.