Halloween gets booed this year? COVID-19 could put a damper on the holiday

As the COVID-19 numbers continue to drop throughout the country, and in the Rio Grande Valley, community members are still unsure about whether or not there will be trick or treating this year.

With popular events such as Boo at Zoo, yearly hosted by the Gladys Porter Zoo, being cancelled, the question of is it really safe to go out during Halloween remains.

“With great regret, Zoo staff determined that they would not be able to host Boo at the Zoo due to Covid 19 this year,” officials at the zoo said.

“The Zoo’s top priority throughout this pandemic has been the health and safety of the community, staff and the Zoo’s animal collection and felt they could not safely operate considering the large number of visitors Boo at the Zoo attracts.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently published guidelines for Halloween that recommend avoiding high risk activities to prevent the spread of the virus. Some of the high risk activities include participating in traditional trick-or-treating, having trunk-or-treat, attending crowded costume parties held indoors, going to an indoor haunted house and traveling to a fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19.

Every year during Halloween week, residents from all over the Valley and even from the other side of the border would cross to Brownsville; wait in line with sometimes hundreds of people while dressed up as their favorite character to enjoy an evening at the zoo.

As attendees walked through the facility, hundreds of children were seen receiving candy by the local businesses and entities who would have a booth at the event and be interacting with the community.

“The Zoo has always hosted this event for the community to express its gratitude for their continued support,” officials said.

“In the past, attendance has always been high, which would make it difficult to adhere to newly implemented regulations about capacity, and it would also be impossible for guest to practice social distancing since it gets so crowded.”

The CDC suggest that residents turn to safe alternatives such as carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household and displaying them, having a virtual Halloween costume contest or having a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home rather than going outside.

Although other popular events such as the yearly Brownsville Police Department trick-or-treat at the Sports Park have not been officially cancelled- but are leaning toward cancelling- authorities said it is hard to predict what the numbers will look like in Halloween.

“We are definitely not past this virus yet and are watching early flu numbers and school openings very closely. I urge all residents to exercise extreme caution whenever they participate in any activity,” Mayor Trey Mendez said.

“I feel very strongly that we shouldn’t take any risks now or at Halloween. But we are still a month away. A lot can change. “

nreyna@brownsvilleherald.com