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Board of Health nixes town’s Halloween trick-or-treating

The Board of Health will not support traditional trick-or-treating in the center of town this year. At its Oct. 13 meeting, members said the event would not fit within state guidelines for Halloween activities, particularly the 100-person limit on outdoor gatherings. The board will, however, support alternatives that fall within state and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

The board stopped short of banning all Halloween events sponsored by community organizations, citing Gov. Charlie Baker’s comments at his Oct. 6 press conference. Baker said he chose not to cancel Halloween “because that would have turned into thousands of indoor Halloween parties, which would have been a heck of a lot worse for public safety.”

Several organizations, including the Girl Scouts, Harvard Family Association, and Lions Club, are planning alternative activities. Outdoor events open to the general public would also need the approval of public safety officials, who fear an unmanageable influx of participants from other towns where all trick-or-treating events might have been canceled, according to board member Libby Levison.  

The board will publicize its Halloween guidelines with a reverse-911 call, public service announcements at the schools, and information on its website. The board will also communicate its guidelines to Fruitlands Museum, which is planning a multiday ticketed trick-or-treating event with time slots. Board chair Sharon McCarthy said, “It’s everyone’s responsibility to keep the community of Harvard safe, no matter their age.” 

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