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The Daily Tar Heel

'Halloween isn't canceled': Students adapt plans to keep up spooky season traditions

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(from left) Jacob Messer, Kayley Carpenter and Elizabeth Wheless in their living room filled with Halloween decorations as they prepare to celebrate the holiday. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Wheless.

As the air chills and the days get shorter, students have begun preparing for the approaching Halloween holiday by planning decorations and figuring out how their annual traditions will change.

UNC junior Elizabeth Wheless tends to go for group celebrations of the holiday. But with COVID-19 in mind, she and her roommates have updated their Halloween plans to stay safe.

“This year, we just decided to go all out for Halloween and make sure that it’s as festive as possible just for the three of us,” Wheless said. “We went on a major rampage at two different Targets trying to find all the stuff that we could use to make both the outside of the house and the inside be as spooky or Halloween-y as possible.”

First-year student Lily Rosenberg understands the value of being in the holiday spirit. She said she believes the perfect time to begin decorating is one month before.

“If you put it up a week before, you can’t enjoy it,” she said. “This way, we get to enjoy it all October, and then I’ll probably take it down a week after Halloween.”

First-year Jackson Meade and his family in Charlotte tend to corner the Halloween decoration market. Through the years, Meade said they have perfected ways to strike fear in visitors of his family's display.

“If you're looking for ways to be scary, don't ever do gore or jumpscares,” Meade said. “Some people enjoy those experiences, and you're welcome to, if they know that's what you're giving them, but otherwise, let people's minds do the work.”

Meade said he knows trick-or-treating will be a challenge for families this year. Normally, his family plans for months in advance of the holiday. Although his family had to get creative, this year they were able to come up with solutions to keep the spread at bay.

Meade said he will repurpose old technology to create candy dispensers, as well as set up a texting service that can trigger a machine to disinfect the candy — all to avoid contact on the holiday.  

"Halloween isn't canceled for us, but we also shouldn't act like it isn't going to be different," Meade said. "It has to be celebratory without being stupid.”

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