The town of Chilmark will be holding a drive-through event at the town hall on the night of Halloween, but selectmen are urging townspeople to follow necessary safety precautions.
At a Tuesday meeting, selectmen discussed plans for Halloween within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and they agreed that Halloween should go forward, but large social gatherings like child and adult parties should be avoided
Selectman Warren Doty said the town should encourage a Halloween plan that has kids trick-or-treating outside, wearing masks, with their families driving them around to get handouts.
“We should discourage indoor parties. It’s not a rule, but in the past, Halloween has been a big night for adult parties as well,” Doty said. “We are in a situation with COVID where on Martha’s Vineyard we have been very vigilant and really very lucky. We have a very low incidence, and we need to keep on track.”
Doty said Chilmark families should feel safe going to the drive-through event at the Chilmark Town Hall and fire station, hosted by the Volunteer Firemen’s Association, which includes a photo stop for kids to have their pictures taken in their costumes on the steps of the town hall.
“We should encourage families to go trick-or-treating by going outdoors at the Chilmark Fire Department, getting your picture taken on the steps, and then going to the Chilmark Store to get a handout, then maybe going down to Menemsha Texaco. We can try and put together eight or 10 places where families can go to trick-or-treat. Kids still wear costumes and go around, but we do it in a very controlled, quiet way. No haunted houses, no indoor parties,” Doty said. “We are informally saying that it is not a set of rules; it is reminding people that we are all experiencing pandemic fatigue, but the virus conditions are still very much with us.”
Selectman Jim Malkin said he is fine with not hosting some of the traditional parties and town events from prior years, and advocated for making safety information about Halloween publicly available, but said he doesn’t feel comfortable telling some families that they shouldn’t get together.
“I am personally not fine with telling people that after your kids get driven around and you are safe and wearing a mask, you can’t go back to your house and have a party, because we know that there are numbers of families who, throughout the summer, have gotten together, spent time together, and have been doing that safely in extended pods,” Malkin said. “I don’t feel comfortable telling those small groups that they can’t get together as they have been.”
In other business, selectmen approved a warrant article for the annual town meeting to change the name of the board of selectmen to the “select board.”