When COVID-19 changes Halloween, Stamford and Greenwich museums save the day
Even Halloween – a holiday steeped in lore, joy and a lot of candy – could not escape the ongoing COVID-19 crisis unscathed.
Guidance from Gov. Ned Lamont discourages traditional trick-or-treating, and without in-person classes for many students in Stamford and Greenwich, typical festive harbingers such as class time parties or parades are a bust.
But for some families, there is still hope for the holidays. Museums throughout Fairfield County have stepped up to the challenge and, despite social distancing and protective masks, are planning events to keep families safe, sane and a little spooky.
“Halloween clearly looks very different this year,” said Megan Brown, youth and family programs manager at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich. “One thing families are looking to us for is to get out, especially while it’s still relatively safe, to go somewhere safe.” Brown hopes that families can celebrate the holiday safely and festively with the museum’s Tricks ‘n’ Treats at the Bruce, scheduled for both Halloween and the day after. The event will feature a themed scavenger hunt and take-home bags full of treats and crafts for children to do at home.
But planning a socially distant event for excited children on a holiday crammed with sweets and mischief isn’t easy. Festivities on both days are capped to 50 people, and families must make reservations to attend, according to Brown. The scavenger hunt was more difficult to manage, since it involves people freely bustling about, but even that has been modified for the COVID-19 era.
Children and their guardians can find answers to the hunt in multiple spaces throughout the Bruce, in order to keep people spaced out. The pandemic prompted staff to brainstorm some remote activities for the Halloween kits, in order to minimize the amount of time people spend inside the Bruce. “Part of that too is making the craft take home with instructions in the Halloween kits they’ll be getting, so that they can have some time out, get some experience, have some hands on fun in the building while looking at something different,” said Brown. “And then, getting candy.”
The Stamford Museum and Nature Center also reimagined some festive fall favorites for the socially distant times. “Our Trick-or-Treat on the Farm is a beloved annual event here at the SM&NC. This year has featured a new take on this traditional favorite,” said Kristin Sinatra, director of external affairs for the Stamford Museum & Nature Center. “Rather than hosting a small number of large sessions, we’ve opted instead to run seven individual sessions each limited to 20 children for a small group experience in this era of social distancing.”
The museum has been running a series of outdoor movies throughout the summer and fall months as well. This weekend, staff is pairing the Halloween classic “Hocus Pocus” with a “safe trunk-or-treat” alongside Riley Volvo Cars in Stamford.
While the idea of socially distant programming may seem trivial during a pandemic, Sinatra says that families relish in the opportunity to be outside and with other people, even if they are six feet apart. “The Trick or Treat on the Farm event, in its new form, has been so popular, we’ve added a few sessions and would add more if our calendar allowed,” said Sinatra. Residents can register for Tricks ‘n’ Treats at the Bruce, Trick-or-Treat on the Farm, and the Stamford Museum & Nature Center’s showing of “Hocus Pocus” online. Face masks are required at all three events, in accordance with state coronavirus guidelines.