Amidst a surge of COVID-19 cases in Maine, many Lewiston and Auburn families used Facebook and other social media websites to find places for their children to safely treat-or-treat.
While the Maine Center for Disease Control did not outright prohibit families from trick-or-treating on Halloween, it did, along with the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, provide certain recommendations on how to make trick-or-treating safer during the pandemic.
The tips from the CDC included social distancing, wearing a mask other than a costume mask, leaving sanitized goodie bags in lieu of handing out candy directly, and leaving hand sanitizer for people to use.
There were several events scheduled in the area throughout the late morning and afternoon, including the annual HELLO-WEEN event sponsored by United New Auburn Association at the newly built Anniversary Park in Auburn.
And there was the annual Halloween celebration hosted by Farmers’ Almanac editor Peter Geiger, who moved the event from his house to the Geiger headquarters and made it drive-thru only.
In Lewiston and Auburn, families only had to turn to the Facebook group “Halloween in L/A,” created by Auburn resident Amanda Cooper, to find which neighborhoods were leaving their lights on Saturday evening for trick-or-treaters.
Hundreds of people joined the group since it was created in September, and for Rachel Rodrigue Nadeau, a teacher at Lewiston High School, it was the perfect opportunity to let people know about her Halloween set-up.
Nadeau said that she lives at the end of a dead-end road, and that she can count on one hand how many trick-or-treaters she’s gotten over the last four years.
This year, however, she decided to go all out and put 72 bags of candy on a table in her driveway — first come, first served.
In a post on the Halloween in L/A Facebook group, she said that the first 24 bags would include “either a Halloween plushie or glow-in-dark slime.”
Guarding the bags of candy was a decorated witch named “Agnes.”
Nadeau said that as a teacher, “I know how hard this pandemic has been on the kids.”
“They deserve to have a Halloween,” Nadeau said. “They’ve given up so much this year.”
Over the course of two hours, Nadeau said that around 25 baggies had been taken — five times more than she had given out in the previous four years.
By the time she shut off her lights for the evening, she had given out 44 baggies.
It was such a success that Nadeau said she and other families who live on the dead-end road are considering doing it again next year.
“Halloween was such a fun time for me when I was younger,” Nadeau said. “I had a brother 11 years younger than me when I was growing up, so by the time he went trick-or-treating, I was old enough to take him. I always had more fun taking other people trick-or-treating. This was the most fun I’ve had on Halloween since I was little.”
For Maria Ohs, a behavioral training coordinator at the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society, her Halloween evening started off poorly; after taking her two children to a drive-thru trick-or-treat station in Lewiston, her car stopped running.
“I was stuck at a gas station and I had no idea what to do,” Ohs said. “I was trying to figure out what to do, because I wanted my children to enjoy Halloween.”
Ohs posted on the Halloween in L/A Facebook group, asking if some families would be willing to hold candy for her children until they were able to make it.
Instead, she received a reply from Sabattus resident Cynthia Lizotte offering to pick up Ohs and her children and drive them to various trunk-or-treat locations in the Twin Cities area.
“I don’t even know her,” Ohs said. “She came over dressed up in a costume and offered to take us to a couple of things. She was amazing. With everything going on with COVID-19, most people would say, ‘Sorry, but there’s nothing we can do,’ but she agreed to help. We were blessed to have her help.”
Ohs said that this is her second year living in Lewiston after moving from Wisconsin and that she “appreciated the community reaching out to me.”