Durham neigborhood gets creative with ‘contactless’ trick-or-treating

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Trick-or-treating this Halloween is discouraged in several cities like Raleigh, Fayetteville, and Durham. Some neighborhoods in the Bull City are organizing “contactless ” activities.

In the Rustica Oaks neighborhood, Sergio Ramos said he knew things would be different this year when handing out candy.

“Halloween is my favorite holiday and I had to go out and be a little bit more creative this year,” Ramos said.

Still determined to hand out full-sized candy bars to the kids, he created a candy chute out of a 9-foot PVC pipe.

“It’s just a simple shipping tube full of masking tape,” Ramos said. “From here to where I’ll be dropping the candy is a full 10 1/2 feet away. So there’s plenty of social distancing and plenty of space for everyone to enjoy and still have some fun.”

Heidi McNeilly is helping the Rustica Oaks neighborhood organize the trick-or-treating events that she says are all contactless. She plans to leave bags of candy out at the end of her driveway for the kids to pick up on Halloween

McNeilly said the plan is to only limit the trick or treating activities to the people who live in the Rustica Oaks neighborhood in hopes of keeping everyone safe and still giving the kids something to do.

“I wanted to make sure we had something for the neighborhood kids where they could have a little touch of that normalcy,” McNeilly said.

But how safe is “contactless” trick-or-treating?

Ben Chapman, a food safety expert at North Carolina State University, said any trick-or-treating that is not face-to-face poses the lowest risk possible. This includes trick-or-treating where people leave candy outside on the curb for kids to pick up.

“The biggest risk throughout this entire pandemic is being around other people,” Chapman said. He also said that there have been no examples of someone catching COVID-19 simply by touching food packaging.

“We don’t have any examples of food packaging leading to illness whatsoever,” Chapman said. “To reduce that risk even further would be for kids to wash their hands after they open the packaging.”

Candy chutes still pose a moderate risk. Chapman said this is because there is still someone outside in contact with the kids as the candy is sent down the chute, but he said its still safer than traditional trick-or-treating.

“The idea of a candy chute, where I have space between me and another person, is certainly lower risk than not using one,” Chapman said.

Ramos said he will mask up, put on gloves, and do what he can to bring joy to the kids this Halloween.

“It gives people the ability to feel normal again, even if only for an afternoon,” Ramos said.

Durham Mayor Steve said traditional trick-or-treating is discouraged in the city this Halloween. However, he said that no one will be cited and that city officials are expecting the community to comply.

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