Hudson Valley Town First to Officially Cancel Trick-Or-Treating
One Hudson Valley community has decided to cancel all Halloween celebrations, including trick-or-treating.
Due to the global pandemic, the CDC released guidelines last month discouraging children from a variety of Halloween activities. The government agency listed traditional trick-or-treating along with hayrides and trunk-or-treating, where children collect candy out of the trunks of cars in a parking lot. Despite the warning, Governor Cuomo said he would not outlaw trick-or-treating. Additionally, Dutchess County Executive, Marc Molinaro, indicated that his children would still be going door to door on Halloween while practicing proper social distancing.
Halloween may be going on as usual in many parts of the Hudson Valley, but one community in Ulster County has announced that trick-or-treating will not be tolerated. Ellenville Chief of Police, Phillip Mattracion, announced on Wednesday that Halloween was "canceled" this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The announcement was posted on the police department's Facebook page, explaining that the Village Board of Trustees had approved the Chief of Police's recommendation to forbid trick-or-treating.
This was not an easy decision, but the health and safety of all residents, and especially children must come first. The large crowds that walk in masses on Halloween, along with going from house to house to obtain candy by either having it handed to the person, or worse yet by reaching in and grabbing the candy out of the bowl places both the person and child close to one another, and makes it impossible to guarantee that the virus is not transmitted to one, or all of the places that people visit based upon the evidence that we currently have on COVID 19.
A large number of people potentially gathering in the Green Acres was listed as another reason for canceling the annual tradition. Mattracion says he wants to avoid having children "traveling from door to door."
The Chief of Police recognized that the decision may be controversial, but says it's something he feels like he has to do.
While it may be viewed as unpopular by some, I do not make recommendations for popularity purposes. I make my recommendations based upon all the evidence that is presented, and based upon what is in the best interest of keeping the residents of this community safe and healthy.
The town of Wawarsing currently has 11 active COVID-19 cases. It's unclear how many of them are located in the Village of Ellenville. When it comes to transmission rates in the Hudson Valley, Ulster County has the lowest number of cases per 100,000 residents, well below Orange, Dutchess, Sullivan, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester.
UPDATE: The original announcement declaring trick-or-treating canceled has been deleted and the Chief of Police has posted a new statement.
After requesting for more information about the decision to cancel trick-or-treating, Chief of Police Phillip Mattracion responded to clarify that the cancelation isn't a "ban."
First and foremost I apologize for the confusion that this may have caused... I don't have any superpowers that would allow me to ban Halloween. I make recommendations, and my recommendation to the Village board is that the village should not condone the traditional Halloween of people going out and trick or treating this year, and that we were cancelling our normal police detail for Halloween.
Mattracion went on to explain that residents will need to decide for themselves if they want to participate in trick-or-treating, although he is "strongly discouraging people from putting themselves at a greater risk by engaging in the traditional Halloween practices." He then added that the City of Harrisburgh, PA has banned traditional trick or treating, with no further context.
Another official statement from the Village of Ellenville Police Department was immediately posted on Facebook:
I want to clarify yesterday's statement, as it was left open to a wide interpretation as a result of how it was worded. I apologize for the confusion. There is no ban on Halloween in the Village of Ellenville. As a result of my recommendation to the Village Board, we are strongly discouraging anyone from engaging in the traditional trick or treating by going door to door this year, or gathering in large groups, or any other activity that would put you at risk for contracting or spreading the coronavirus. Further, while the wording led to the belief that it was banned, it should have said that this agency has cancelled our normal police detail for Halloween. The spirit of the recommendation, was that we cannot recommend in good conscience that people open themselves up to possibly contracting and spreading the virus, by engaging in activities such as trick or treating that we know based upon the medical evidence would put people at greater risk for contracting or spreading this deadly virus. The decision to engage in trick or treating is solely up to the individual and their parent or guardian. We want you to be aware of the risks involved, but you will make your decisions in the end. That being said, please remember that on one is immune, and if you choose to do go out on Halloween, please do so safely, and please abide by the CDC's guidance.
We have invited Chief Mattracion to be interviewed on The Boris and Robyn Show on 101.5 WPDH this Wednesday morning, but he declined, saying he is unavailable.
We will continue to update this story if there are any more developments.