Summit County families find spooky alternatives to trick-or-treating for a COVID-safe Halloween |

Summit County families find spooky alternatives to trick-or-treating for a COVID-safe Halloween

A sign taped to a mailbox at a house in Summit Cove informs visitors that the house is not participating in trick-or-treating on Saturday, Oct. 31. Summit County Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence made the signs with the help of her neighbor Gretchen Hamilton to help people avoid unnecessary contact on the holiday.
Photo by Libby Stanford /

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include information about the creators of the “no candy here” signs.

FRISCO — From scavenger hunts to spooky escape rooms, Summit County parents got creative in their efforts to celebrate Halloween this year. 

As with most things in 2020, the novel coronavirus pandemic has put a damper on the Halloween holiday. With cases rising in Summit County, officials have urged families to avoid traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating.

On Halloween, the county sent both a text message and a phone call out to residents to remind them to be safe over the holiday.

“We’re not Scrooges,” said County Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence about the county’s decision to discourage trick-or-treating. “We’re not trying to ban a holiday, we’re just trying to encourage people to do this in the safest way possible.”

All of the town governments in Summit County canceled traditional trick-or-treating and Halloween events this year in an effort to curb the spread of the virus. 

With few official events to attend, most families found themselves reevaluating their approach to the holiday. 

“As much as we wanted to do the traditional Halloween, it just didn’t feel safe this year,” said Dillon Valley resident Matt Mulica. “We decided that early on, but this recent surge is also just making us really want to make sure that we’re keeping our family safe.”

Mulica and his wife, Emily, turned the basement of their home into a spooky escape room as an alternative activity for their three kids, who dressed as superheroes for the holiday. 

“The idea is that they’ll have to use math to find a lockbox and the code to the lockbox is located in a number of clues and ultimately leading them to make it through the three rooms (in the basement) to a big stash of candy for each of them,” he said.

After finishing the escape room, Mulica’s family sat down to watch a Halloween movie and celebrated the holiday together. 

Mulica isn’t the only parent who got creative this year. Instead of traditional trick-or-treating, Lori Dinse created a series of Halloween-themed games for her daughter and a friend.

A sign at the entrance of Summit Cove asks people to avoid trick-or-treating in 2020.
Photo by Libby Stanford /

Dinse said the games include Halloween-themed cup stacking and a game where the kids have to feel objects blindfolded and guess what they are. 

“With the numbers of COVID cases going up and the fear of having everything shut down and losing our ski season, we thought ‘Well, what can we do in our family to help get the numbers down?’” Dinse said. “I think a successful ski season is more important than trick-or-treating.”

In addition to the yard games, Dinse said she and her daughter carved pumpkins and made a meal inside a pumpkin. 

To help people like Mulica and Dinse avoid the trick-or-treating crowds, Lawrence worked with her neighbor Gretchen Hamilton and the town governments to create posters, which people put on their homes to indicate that they weren’t participating in trick-or-treating this year. 

“We’re facing some real potential economic adversity coming up if we can’t get our virus numbers under control,” Lawrence said. “I love all holidays so I’m just so happy that people are coming up with creative ways to still celebrate.”

Lawrence said she and her daughter created decorative bags of candy to pass out in their neighborhood and friends. 

Mulica, Dinse and Lawrence all said they were pleased to see how people got creative with the holiday this year. 

“We have to be more creative and still have nice memories for our kids, so they don’t look back on this as these dark days,” Mulica said. 

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