Hoffman Estates sets trick-or-treat stance, plans Halloween event outside Now Arena
While Hoffman Estates officials aren't encouraging trick-or-treating amid the COVID-19 pandemic this Halloween, they are setting hours, suggesting safety measures and even planning an alternate form of holiday entertainment outside the Now Arena.
Village board members have grudgingly accepted that some stance on Halloween is necessary despite ongoing guidance from public health officials that social distancing remains among the most effective ways to prevent infection.
"We canceled the July Fourth celebration, and it caused some of the best neighborhood fireworks I've ever seen," Village Trustee Gary Pilafas said. "So I don't care what you think in terms of what we can and can't cancel under our jurisdiction or authority ... people are still going to do things. What are we going to do to enforce if we outlaw it?"
While Trustee Gary Stanton said he sees no reason to alter the village's pandemic response that included the cancellation of all special events this year, Mayor Bill McLeod said a holiday can't be canceled as easily.
"I think the reality is the kids are going to trick-or-treat anyway probably, so how do we keep them as safe as possible?"
The village board agreed to establish this year's trick-or-treat hours from 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31. Safety tips are expected to be included in the October edition of the village's Citizen newsletter.
McLeod suggested leaving the porch light off at homes that don't want to participate, and distributing candy from a table at the end of the driveway for those that do.
Details about the event at the Now Arena were far from final Thursday, but it's expected to be one in which families preregister to park their cars, interact with costumed characters under COVID-safe protocols, and then watch a relatively short outdoor movie.
It's expected to be over by 6:30 p.m. to make way for a more adult-oriented event scheduled in the parking lot that night.
Village board members debated whether the event should be free or come with a $10-per-vehicle charge.
Trustee Michael Gaeta at first advocated not charging due to the number of canceled events the village has saved money on this year. But he was persuaded that a small charge would encourage attendees to honor their reservations and could be made up for with a candy giveaway or food tickets.