Traditionally, Halloween is a night of fun about town, with kids collecting candy from neighbors and young adults enjoying themed drink specials at bars downtown. There’s nothing stopping these traditions from taking place in 2020, despite a continued COVID-19 surge in Iowa, but Johnson County health officials have offered guidance for locals hoping to haunt the streets on Saturday, Oct. 31.
The official trick-or-treating period for Johnson County is 5:30 to 8 p.m., and officials recommend taking a number of steps to keep yourself and others safe (including following Johnson County’s ongoing face covering ordinance).
If you are sick or have been in contact with someone who is sick with COVID-19 or is symptomatic, stay home.
Wear a mask over your mouth and nose throughout the evening. Halloween masks do not offer appropriate protection from COVID. Avoid door-to-door contact.
Limit your trick-or-treating group to your household members. Stay at least six feet away from those who don’t live in your home.
Bring hand sanitizer and use it frequently.
Avoid busy streets and areas that do not allow for 6 feet of distancing.
Don’t stop at homes that are not following safety guidelines, such as mask wearing and social distancing.
“If you are new to Halloween, note that not all homes participate,” they caution. “Trick-or-treaters should respect homes with their lights off, as it may be home to someone who is either more vulnerable to COVID-19 or is not interested in participating.”
They also offered some suggestions of alternatives to trick-or-treating that employ Zoom and social distancing, including hosting a virtual costume contest or online pumpkin-carving party, or creating a trick-or-treat scavenger hunt with family members in your house.
If you’re interested in watching a movie on Halloween weekend, Iowa City’s Parks and Recreation department will host “Halloween at the Drive-In” on Friday, Oct. 30 from 6 to 10:30 p.m. in Mercer Park’s parking lot. There will be two Halloween movies. The first, the animated film Hotel Transylvania, will start at 6:30 p.m. and at 8.35 p.m., it’s Goosebumps, based on the R.L. Stine books and starring Jack Black.
Johnson County is no longer under a closure order for bars, breweries and wineries, so Halloween is bound to be a boon for downtown Iowa City businesses. Of course, those going out should practice social distancing and wear a mask (of the respiratory infection mitigation variety, not just costume masks) and social distance, both inside and outside. While many businesses are recommending patrons waiting in line stay six feet apart, they can not enforce rules outside their premises, so it is ultimately up to individuals to do the right thing. Bars, of course, should be keeping tables adequately separated, sanitizing regularly and enforcing mask-wearing indoors if they hope to curb community spread.
Football and (cardboard) fans return to Kinnick
Hawkeye football is back, after what was one of the most bizarre off-seasons ever — canceled spring practices, daily COVID-19 testing of athletes over the summer, nationwide debates about whether college football should come back at all, the on-again–off-again–on-again Big 10 fall season and dozens of former Iowa football players coming out with stories of racism and abuse from coaches, resulting in the firing (and $1.1 million pay-out) of longtime strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle.
The Hawkeyes play the first of four home games at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday at 2:30 p.m., taking on Northwestern. This will not be a typical game; besides family members of players, no fans will be allowed into Kinnick, in accordance to Big 10 policy. However, to bring the spirit of the fans into the stadium, cardboard cutouts will be placed in the seats. Anyone may order a personalized cutout to attend the game on their behalf — prices range from $35 for students, $50 for season ticketholders and $77 non-season ticketholders. Twenty percent of proceeds will be donated to UI Dance Marathon.
The Iowa football team played their first game of the season against Purdue in West Lafayette, Indiana last Saturday, Oct. 24, falling to the Boilermakers 20 to 24. This inauspicious start to the team’s 2020 gameplay came the same week news broke that eight former Hawkeye football players, all on the team between 2010 and 2018, sent a letter to UI via their attorneys seeking $20 million in compensation for their and other athletes’ loss of professional opportunities and pain and suffering incurred during their time as UI student athletes. The players are also calling for the firing of Athletic Director Gary Barta, head coach Kirk Ferentz and offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz, all three of whom (in addition to the ousted Chris Doyle) were allegedly involved in incidents of racism, unfair punishments and/or turning a blind eye to such abuse, according to the eight players.
UI rejected the demands outlined in the letter, making a lawsuit against the school likely in the coming months. University officials say efforts are already in place to improve the culture of its athletic programs, including installing a director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the Athletics Department, and allowing players to peacefully demonstrate during the national anthem by kneeling, if they choose.
Saturday’s Halloween game will be broadcast on ESPN. The Hawkeyes are a 2.5-point favorite over the Wildcats.
The weather on Saturday is expected to be mostly sunny and a bit windy with a high of 59 degrees and low of 30 degrees.