Stowe has pulled the plug this year on what has become a Halloween tradition in recent years. The town will not close Maple Street to traffic so masked youngsters can take to the street, delivering scares, in search of candy.
According to Town Manager Charles Safford, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has classified trick or treating as a high-risk activity during the coronavirus emergency. The Stowe selectboard made the decision Monday.
“They basically want to encourage people not to gather,” Safford said. “They’re not saying people can’t do it, but they might want to think about things they can do with smaller groups.”
Since 2015, the town has closed down Maple Street for a few hours and organized a candy drive for people who live on the street and would otherwise be spending a small fortune on treats; the block party attracts costumed revelers from far and wide.
Safford said Stowe Elementary School has indicated it won’t organize its Halloween costume parade through the village, an annual smilefest for parents, pedestrians and tourists who ooh and ahh at the various creative outfits.
The town parks and recreation department also won’t hold its Halloween event at the school, but Safford said the department might consider something as an alternative, perhaps a virtual costume contest.
Safford said the town made the decision a month early partly because town officials have fielded a lot of phone calls and emails asking about the Maple Street festivities — and many of them were from out of town, and even from elsewhere around New England.
“That weighs on our minds, too,” he said.
The town earlier this summer dramatically scaled back its July 4th celebrations, cancelling the parade and other festivities. There were still fireworks, but the town asked people to watch them from their homes instead of congregating at the town events fields.
That decision was made after word got out that Stowe was one of the only towns still offering fireworks, and the murmurings spread far and wide.
Safford said the Halloween decision might disappoint some people, but noted it’s strictly pandemic-related.
“This is a one year thing,” he said. “We’ve come a long ways and hopefully we can see this through and hopefully next year we can start it again.”