For generations of neighbourhood kids, Halloween has always been one of the best and scariest nights of the year.
The night that ghosts rise out of their graves, witches fly through the dark skies on their broomsticks, and vampires prowl the land hunting for blood is celebrated in many countries around the world every Oct 31, but nowhere with as much enthusiasm as the US.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Halloween spending in the US was estimated at around US$9 billion last year.
This year, Americans were expected to spend at least US$3.2 billion on spooky costumes, US$2.6 billion on sweets and candy, and US$2.7 billion on decorations.
So American kids will be especially gloomy this year as the traditional fun and fear festival has been cancelled.
Going house-to-house “trick or treating” for candy won’t be happening in Southern California this year, reports NPR.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has released guidance to help families plan for a pandemic-safe Halloween.
They are discouraging traditional festivities and recommending socially distant alternatives.
The county says there is no way to guarantee door-to-door trick or treating, in which kids dressed up as their favourite monsters visit their neighbours to be given sweets and candy, can be done safely in a pandemic.
This year all Halloween gatherings with non-household members, even outdoors, are banned.
“Door-to-door trick or treating is not recommended because it can be very difficult to maintain proper social distancing and ensure that everyone is appropriately masked to prevent disease spreading, and because sharing food is risky,” the press release reads.
Instead, officials recommend residents celebrate Halloween online or from a safe distance.
Suggestions include holding parties and activities like pumpkin carving and costume contests virtually and participating in drive-by events or festive car parades.
Families can also safely attend Halloween-themed events at places like drive-in theatres, outdoor restaurants and museums, in compliance with public health guidelines.
And of course, officials say, people can still festoon their homes and gardens with ghoulish decorations.
Giant Southern California theme parks – Universal Studios Hollywood, Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm – have been closed since March. They have all cancelled their Halloween celebrations.