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Alternatives for Safe & Fun Halloween and Dia de los Muertos

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause illness, hospitalizations, and deaths in Marin County, the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is offering families safe and responsible options to celebrate Halloween and Dia de los Muertos while preventing the disease’s spread.

HHS’ Public Health Division has recently released safe celebration guidelines, urging residents to seek at-home and virtual festivities and is strongly discouraging customary activities like door-to-door trick-or-treating or large multi-household parties, which can be high risk for COVID-19 transmission. Traditional celebrations encourage touching surfaces like doorbells, door handles, and candy bowls, and make it more difficult to maintain physical distancing.

All year long, traditional holiday activities often promote the congregating and mixing of households, which increases the risk of transmitting COVID-19. It is important to plan early and identify safer options, said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County Public Health Officer.

“Adopting new ideas or making modifications to our customs can reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19, while allowing families a way to celebrate these time-honored traditions,” Willis said. “Regardless of how you choose to celebrate Halloween or Dia de los Muertos, it is important to maintain vigilance with wearing proper face coverings, practicing physical distancing and good hygiene, and keeping other personal protection measures in mind.”

Some safer alternatives for celebrating Halloween or Dia de los Muertos include:

  • Dressing up homes and yards with Halloween themed decorations, or decorating homes with images and objects to honor deceased loved ones.
  • Online parties such as costume contests, pumpkin carvings or other virtual family celebrations.
  •  Movie nights at drive-in theaters.
  • Holiday-themed meals at outdoor restaurants
  • Holiday-themed art installations at an outdoor museum.
  • Preparing traditional family recipes with members of your household.
  • Playing music in your home that your deceased loved ones enjoyed
  • Making and decorating masks or making an altar for the deceased

Also safer: car-based events (where individuals stay in their vehicles) that comply with public health guidance, such as:

  • Drive-by events or contests where individuals dress up or decorate their vehicles.
  • Drive-through events where individuals remain in their vehicles and drive through an area with Halloween displays.
  • Drive -in events where individuals can receive a treat bag (limited to commercially packaged non-perishable treats) or take away item(s) from an organizer while the participants remain in their vehicle.

Gatherings and events not allowed under current local and state health orders:

  • Halloween gatherings, Dia de los Muertos celebrations, events or parties with non-household members are not permitted unless they are part of your household social bubble of 12 individuals or less, are conducted outdoors, and are otherwise in compliance with the social distancing health order
  • Carnivals, festivals, live entertainment, and haunted house attractions are not allowed.
  • Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household
  • Having a large dinner party with people from different households coming from different geographic locations
  • Attending large indoor celebrations with singing or chanting

Local alternatives will be listed below as they are announced. Please check back for more information:

  • Marin Center’s Halloween Fair Food Drive-Thru Spooktacular between October 23 and November 1. Parents and kids may don their costumes and prepare to be spooked in the Marin Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium parking lot with family-friendly haunted surprises and activities while staying inside their cars.

  • Día de los Muertos Bilingual Event for Families - Monday, November 2, 2020 - Learn about Day of the Dead traditions in English and Spanish and make your own ofrenda altar to honor a loved one. For ages 5 and up, with family members. Meets over Zoom. Learn more.

  • Pick up a free Grab & Go activity bag at the Mill Valley Library and celebrate Dia de los Muertos! This Grab & Go bag will have everything you need to make your own paper Sugar Skull mask. For children age 3-10, available at the Library's Curbside Service from Oct. 19 through Nov. 2, while supplies last. Learn more.

  • Social Media Halloween Word Find - Follow us on Instagram and Facebook and play our Halloween Word Find during the week of Oct. 26-30! During the week of Halloween, we'll post 1 image per day on our Instagram & Facebook pages. Look closely to find the spooky word! On October 31st, we'll post a link to our Word Find Quiz & surprises!

  • Halloween Story Time at Home - Join Librarian Lauren for a fun, special and not-too-scary Halloween-themed Storytime At Home. You will hear songs, rhymes and stories all about this fun Halloween holiday. The Mill Valley Library posts a new Storytime at Home every Thursday on their YouTube channel. Check it out!