110319-du-halloween1

Mickaela Cranshaw accepts candy from a bucket at the annual Harvest Block Party on Halloween evening 2019.

Junction City can add All Treats Day to the list of COVID-19-related cancelations. However, community members are putting together an alternative.

Geary County Health Department director Tammy Von Busch said could not approve the annual Junction City All Treats Day parade. Following the recommendation of the health department, the chamber board agreed to cancel the event, which they hosted on the Thursday before Halloween for several years. Children would don their costumes and gather around 10th and Washington streets. The Junction City High School Band would lead the parade, which quickly fell apart as children raced to the businesses for candy.

Von Busch and Geary County Health Department deputy director Charles Martinez met with staff from the city, chamber of commerce, and local churches Wednesday to discuss Halloween events and activities.

One issue health department officials have with All Treats Day relates to the requirements for contact tracing and reporting. They are in almost-daily contact with school officials and believe district administration would agree with her that any kind of event involving students is not a good idea.

Trick or Treating

Geary County Health Department officials have not settled on a recommendation for trick-or-treating.

“I don’t think we can stop it,” Martinez said. “We still have to discuss it and talk to the state about it.”

Officials from all three cities in Geary County say, as of now, they are not going to stop trick-or-treating.

“Here's where we stand,” said Milford Mayor Brad Roether. “As of now, we are not going to cheat little kids out of that. “If people don't want trick or treaters to come, our policy has always been ‘don't have your porch light on.’ Anybody that doesn't want to participate … they don't have to it's no big deal. But we feel like we're not going to cheat the kids.”

In his small town it is easy for people to physical distance. There are seldom more than a handful of children together in a group at any given time when they hit the streets on Halloween night.

In Grandview Plaza Mayor Rick Geike said the city will not sponsor trick-or-treating at the city building, but he too has no intention of trying to stop it throughout the town.

“Local people, if they want to turn their outside lights on, that’s their prerogative,” he said. “We’ll still have out officers out there watching and keeping people safe.

Likewise, in Junction City Allen Dinkel, city manager, said he does not anticipate city officials interfering with trick-or-treating.

“I don’t think the city will have any discussion on the kids going door-to-door,” he said. “I think that’s a personal issue. I can’t cancel trick-or-treating anyhow, that’s a private thing.”

Halloween activities

Although All Treats Day will not happen, health department officials are supportive of private organizations hosting events provided they meet safety requirements. Von Busch said she is open to reviewing mitigation plans submitted by local groups that want to offer some form of celebration.

The group bantered around ideas settling on the chamber creating a site map of locations where people, businesses and organizations can set up. Potential areas include parking lots or other open spaces where trick-or-treaters can physically distance themselves.

The Flint Hills Church is considering another location in the Spring Valley subdivision in addition to setting up something at their Seventh Street location, said BJ Solander, pastor of Flint Hills Church.

“Our thought was, it's going to happen,” Solander said. “If we could provide a safe alternative for those families who wanted to dress up and do something … and it was safer than … going door-to-door — that felt like a winsome effort on our part.”

Depending on the area Trick-or-treating can happen as a drive through. In other areas the children can follow a walking path while maintaining their distance from one another.

People who would like to set up a site or are looking for an existing site where they can join in can call the chamber office at 785-762-2632 for more information. The Chamber will put out more information as plans start coming together.

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