Trying to find the perfect balance between goblins, ghosts and a global pandemic, communities throughout New Hampshire are looking at whether to permit trick-or-treating.
On Thursday, Gov. Chris Sununu encouraged local municipalities to make their own decisions, saying the state will not be placing restrictions on the Halloween tradition.
Bedford officials have already said they intend to allow trick-or-treating, and are one of the first towns to announce a formal decision.
“We are in full support of trick-or-treating moving forward,” Town Manager Rick Sawyer said Monday.
In Manchester, a spokesperson for Mayor Joyce Craig’s office said the city has yet to determine if trick-or-treating will take place.
An online poll conducted by Manchester police showed residents prefer trick-or-treating to be held between 6 and 8 p.m. if children are allowed to wear costumes and collect candy this year.
Many communities are waiting for Wednesday’s webinar hosted by the New Hampshire Municipal Association (NHMA), which will offer legal guidance and advice for trick-or-treating in the midst of COVID-19.
Nashua Police Chief Mike Carignan said he has a meeting Oct. 5 with Mayor Jim Donchess and representatives from the city’s health department.
“I am hoping to at least have some type of event for Halloween. I’m not sure what that will look like yet, but I should know by Monday night,” said Carignan.
Goffstown officials are awaiting guidance from the NHMA and public health officials.
“We’ve discussed it internally with the fire chief and police chief,” Derek Horne, Goffstown’s town manager, said on Monday. “We have made no formal recommendation yet to the Select Board. We have to figure it out still.”
Some basic safety tips were released by the state last week, such as staying at home if not feeling well, considering wearing a face mask while trick-or-treating or handing out candy, avoiding large gatherings and using hand sanitizer throughout the festivities.
Litchfield Town Administrator Troy Brown said a decision has not yet been made, but he expects the police chief and the town’s health officer will soon be providing input to selectmen.
“There is a webinar sponsored by NHMA this week, which they would like to participate in before issuing recommendations,” he said.
Amherst selectmen were planning to discuss the topic on Monday and potentially make a decision, according to town officials.
Sawyer said he does worry about nearby towns canceling their Halloween events, which could result in families traveling to Bedford to celebrate.
“The only thing that we are really concerned about is if every town around us happens to cancel their trick-or-treating and we are the only ones left doing it. Our residents could get really overwhelmed,” he said. “But, right now trick-or-treating is on.”
Bedford may opt to adjust its traditional trick-or-treating time to when it is still light outside; it usually takes place 6-8 p.m. on Oct. 31. Sawyer noted there will be a full moon on Saturday, Oct. 31, which could help with the lighting.
This year it will be critically important for homeowners not interested in participating in trick-or-treating to leave their exterior lights off, Sawyer said, stressing trick-or-treaters should respect that decision and move to another home.
Union Leader Staff Reporter Paul Feely contributed to this report.