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Every weekday morning WCAI brings you coverage of local issues, news, and stories that matter. Join us for Morning Edition from 6 a.m. to 9a.m., with Kathryn Eident and Brian Morris.

Locals Are Keeping the Halloween Spirit Alive

Halloween is just a few days away, and no matter how you celebrate, it will be unlike any Halloween we’ve ever seen.

Some people, like residents in a popular trick or treating neighborhood in Vineyard Haven, or the organizers of an annual trunk or treat event at the Cape Cod Church in Falmouth, have decided they won’t hand out candy this year. 

But others have found some creative solutions to celebrate the holiday.

Some residents in Harwich have come together to give their kids – and really the community -- a special treat this year. Harwich residents Leah Mercurio and Deborah Hanley created a house decorating contest.

They put out a request on social media for any homeowners looking to showcase their Halloween spirit. 

They've also created an online map. Text GIVEMECANDY to 22454 and you'll receive a link to the route. People can vote on their favorite decorations after taking the tour.

There were about 30 homes on the list as of earlier this week, some with spider webs, carved pumpkins, and ghostly light displays.

At Deborah Hanley’s home, her front yard is covered in gravestones and fun lights.  Her daughter, Natalie, says she's proud of what she and family put together, and she's excited to have people stop by and have a look.

“All the gravestones have cool names on them, they all have funny words on them," Natalie said. "My favorite is actually one that I made. It says, 'I threw the bouquet at the funeral, and I caught it.'”

Hanley says that people need any excuse they can get this year to have fun. And the community has really responded to their idea of decorating their homes for Halloween.

"The community is just excited to bring tradition back and holiday spirit back, and it’s just exciting,” she said.

A few local businesses have donated items that will be awarded to the top vote getters, and people are touring the decorated houses and voting.

Also, several fire departments are pulling together what they’re calling Reverse Halloween this year. Firefighters are delivering candy to kids staying in for the holiday.

West Barnstable Fire Chief Joe Maruca says they’ve hosted a Halloween party at the station the last 15 years, but obviously they couldn’t do that this year. Maruca says – similar to the Harwich group – this year might be more important to bring the community together. Families can call the department to request a delivery, or check out the department's Facebook page for more. 

Also, the Cape Symphony is planning a celebration. This is after the musicians haven't performed for the public since the beginning of the pandemic. They’ve had a few private shows, but nothing like what is planned for Halloween.

Mary George with the Symphony says they are planning a number of live, in-person performances outside on Saturday. These will be staggered shows. Families can pick from a handful of time slots to attend what will be a more intimate performances to keep crowd sizes down.

Face masks will be required, and there will space to move around.

They’ll also have a costume contest, and treats will be given out. Here's more on the event.

George gave the impression this is as much about boosting moral for their own staff as it is about giving families something to do. Like many art institutions, it’s been a tough year.

"This provided us an opportunity for us to feel like we are just doing something normal," she said. "We are planning a festive Halloween event for the community, with our musicians where we can invite people in and show them the hospitality and joy that we pride ourselves on giving to our patrons.”

Towns have also posted some information about how to trick or treat safely.

The main suggestions are what we've been hearing since March: cover your nose and mouth with a mask, and not just a costume mask; keep six feet of distance from others, and stay outdoors. Also, sanitize or wash your hands before eating candy. Even sanitize after each household.

Some towns are encouraging trick or treating between certain hours, so check your town's website before heading out.

Towns are also encouraging hosts to leave candy outside on a platter. 

Among the Don’ts: Health officials say "Don't bob for apples" and don't gather at crowded haunted houses.

The takeaway - and this is coming down from Governor Charlie Baker - if you want to celebrate, trick or treating is preferable to hosting an indoor party.