Mayor Keller: ‘I do not control Halloween’

The Albuquerque BioPark’s annual Zoo Boo, seen here in 2015, won’t happen this year as the city is canceling nearly all of its Halloween events due to COVID-19. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque has temporarily bid adieu to its Zoo Boo and shut the door on its haunted house.

Mayor Tim Keller said Wednesday that the city is canceling nearly all its Halloween events this year due to COVID-19 and that trick-or-treating “is not something we’re really encouraging.”

But Keller – responding to what he said have been “a ton of questions” his office is fielding about Oct. 31 – said his influence over holiday activities is relatively restricted beyond calling off city-sponsored events.

“I do not control Halloween; that is not in the powers of the office of the mayor, so I don’t want to give any indication that somehow the mayor is making calls on all sorts of details around Halloween,” he told a news conference. “But we are going to give guidance, I hope folks heed that guidance.”

He recommended that Albuquerque residents celebrate only in socially distanced, COVID-19-safe manners and pay attention to guidance coming from the state and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC has an online list of what it considers low-, moderate- and high-risk Halloween activities. It cites household pumpkin carving and “virtual” Halloween costume contests at the low end, and “traditional” trick-or-treating and hayrides with people from outside your household on the high end.

The moderate-risk activities include socially distanced, small-group, outdoor costume parties and “one-way” trick-or-treating. That would mean lining up individually wrapped candies outside for kids to take in a socially distanced manner, such as at the end of the driveway, according to the CDC site.

Should families choose to trick-or-treat, Keller said, he wants them to be “extra-sensitive” at homes with the lights off or other signs they are not participating and to remember that Halloween masks generally “don’t count” for COVID-19 purposes.

The pandemic prompted the city to call off most of its normal activities. Nixed this year are the “Boo at the Zoo,” city-organized Halloween festivities at Old Town, and Albuquerque Fire Rescue’s haunted house on the West Side. The city will, however, carry on with its “Trunk or Treat” program at Balloon Fiesta Park.

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