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Moonlight and masks to keep Halloween cool this year

ST. LOUIS – Halloween 2020 promises a nip in the air, clouds trailing across a full moon, and the usual tinge of goosebump-raising otherworldliness. But this year’s celebration will be anything but usual – in fact, it’ll be as rare as a blue moon.

This year, for the first time, the threat of the COVID-19 coronavirus is spurring new advice to help celebrate safely.

The city’s health department is offering tips to keep children, parents and others healthy while they enjoy a little thrill on this unofficial holiday.

“Halloween is a time of wonder and excitement for both children and adults, as it lends the opportunity to pretend to be someone (or something) else,” acting health director Dr. Fredrick Echols says on the city’s website. He notes that the celebration is a “chance to enjoy an escape from day-to-day activities.”

“Taking some additional steps is necessary to protect your health, that of your family and the community at large,” he warns.

People who go out trick-or-treating need to limit their group to no more than six, and stay at least six feet away from people not in their own households; wear properly fitting safety masks at all times; use hand sanitizer frequently; and offer and take only individually wrapped candy or treats. Other ways to celebrate include virtual Halloween parties and outdoor trunk-or-treat or drive-through events instead of going door to door.

Some kinds of events people should not hold include parties with those not in a person’s usual circle; indoor haunted houses; and attending rural fall festivals where coronavirus prevention measures aren’t enforced.

Costumes and decorations are fun, especially – as Echols suggests – when they’re homemade. But there’s something about an eight-foot-tall neon-orange jack-o-lantern that puts a smile on your face.

A row of them stands along the train tracks behind Union Station, where visitors can tour decorated train cars in The Halloween Experience. Saturday is the final day for the program, billed as “a family friendly Halloween spooktacular featuring a walk through our historic train cars decked out for the season.”

And everyone can admire the full moon, which will be the second this month (the first was on Oct. 1). That makes it officially a Blue Moon.

June Heath

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