Arlington, VA

Homes on N. Jackson Street in Ashton Heights may put up Halloween decorations this year, but most will not hand out treats in order to discourage trick-or-treating and follow state and national health guidelines.

The Virginia Department of Health recommends that people avoid traditional trick or treating because it is a “higher risk activity.” North Jackson Street neighbors — noted for having the most elaborate Halloween decorations in Arlington — decided that respecting this guidance would mean foregoing the usual Halloween revelry.

The street has been a popular destination for trick-or-treating for decades. Homes between Wilson Blvd and Pershing Drive deck out their houses with witches, pumpkins and skeletons galore, create a haunted house, and give out enough candy to keep pediatric dentists in business.

“Halloween is a treasured tradition in our community,” said Scott Sklar, president of the Ashton Heights Civic Association.

Some homes will be decorated on N. Jackson Street, but Sklar said he anticipated many others along the street and in Ashton Heights may avoid decorating, to discourage crowds.

“We regret seeing a scaled-back Halloween, but want to be good neighbors and do our part to keep our community safe,” he said.

Sklar said he hopes his neighborhood can bring back the ghouls, ghosts and graveyards next year.

COVID-19 is slightly dampening the spooky spirit in Arlington County. A recent ARLnow poll found that of more than 2,000 respondents, nearly half are not planning to hand out candy this year. Another poll found that more than a third of locals who usually decorate for Halloween are either skipping it or scaling it back this year.

The county’s guidance encourages people to decorate, but discourages them from going door-to-door for candy, walking through haunted houses with screaming people, and attending large, in-door parties.

“Everyone planning to celebrate Halloween this year should avoid close contact with people who do not live in their household, wear a mask, keep 6-feet distance and practice frequent and proper hand washing,” said Arlington County Public Health Director Dr. Reuben Varghese. “There are still ways to celebrate Halloween, but it will have to be on a more limited scale.”

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