Jen Newman has won the decorating contest twice while living in two different homes. It’s common during Halloween, she said, for passersby to be startled by smoke machines, sounds of ghouls and dogs barking or something falling from a tree softly atop their head. Last year, her father drew attention when he sat motionless outside in a zombie costume, she said. He would move slightly when kids approached.
The real estate agent said Halloween is her favorite holiday. She has hosted a Halloween party of 40 parents and children in her backyard to kick off trick-or-treating for 15 years.
“I get it,” Newman said, regarding the city’s decision. “We won’t let it ruin everything.”
A photo of Jen Newman's father Rich Thomas dressed as a zombie in 2019 and neighbor Kristen Parker. Avondale Estates has canceled trick-or-treating, the city said in an email sent to residents Friday morning, due to health concerns. The annual event typically attracts thousands of ghosts, goblins and super heroes from neighboring areas of DeKalb County, the city said. Courtesy Jen Newman
Other metro cities contacted by the AJC had yet to make a decision on Halloween activities, including Roswell and Alpharetta.
Marietta City Manager Lindsey Wiles said Friday the city will cancel its HarvestFest Market in October. The annual Halloween festival traditionally includes a costume contest.
Dr. S. Elizabeth Ford, district health director for DeKalb County, praised the decision by Avondale Estates officials, saying it would be difficult for children to maintain social distancing.
“I don’t think anyone should be handling individual pieces of candy from neighbors. From a safety perspective, that would be a risk,” she said.
Ford said health officials will know next week if new cases for COVID-19 increased substantially during the Labor Day holiday weekend.
Flu season, which starts in September, is on the mind of health officials as well, she said. Symptoms during the first 72 hours of the illness can be very similar to COVID-19.
The health director recommends flu shots.
“We’re encouraging them now more than ever,” she said. “You want to be clear about what you have and it will keep you out of the hospital.”