Winterhaven to go dark on Halloween due to pandemic

Future of annual Festival of Lights may be in doubt due to coronavirus

Winterhaven Halloween cancelled

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Winterhaven may be closed to the public this Halloween due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A resident, who asked not to be identified, shared with KOLD News 13 an email from the Winterhaven Board of Directors.

In that email, the board asked residents to turn off their porch lights and not hand out candy this year.

“We hope you continue to gather in small, safe groups to celebrate, but we are discouraging trick-or-treating in the neighborhood,” the board said in the email.

The news comes a little more than a week after the Pima County Health Department issued guidance about celebrating Halloween. You can read those recommendations HERE.

While Winterhaven is more well-known for its annual Festival of Lights, hundreds of people head there each year to trick-or-treat.

Usually, community members sit outside their homes, start bonfires and pass out candy.

The board said the city of Tucson has offered help to keep the crowds away and that it would issue a news release about Halloween later.

The board said the future of the Festival of Lights is still to be determined.

The resident said the board is skeptical that it will be able to get a permit for the Christmas tradition because the city isn’t giving them out for large gatherings.

The email sent to residents lays out the compromises: sign up for a neighborhood only trick or treating session on a separate date and don’t hand out candy on the 31st. They want to discourage the thousands of children who come through, which resident Doug Marcoux said is the best part.

“This is a safe neighborhood where a lot of kids who might not have as safe of a place to go trick or treating come and gather and I think that’s why we get so many of them here," said Marcoux.

It’s his first holiday season in the well-known neighborhood, and he’d been looking forward to handing out candy in a unique COVID safe way. He says it should be up to the individual homeowners.

"To me Halloween has always been something that you can opt-in on or you can shut your lights off, that’s how it’s always been. As a child your told don’t go up to a house that has it’s lights off.”

Down the street, Kayla Cook agrees She plans to still decorate and host family and friends, saying handing out candy can be decided on your level of comfort.

“Leave it open to the people who are comfortable with it and the people who aren’t comfortable with it can keep their lights off, close the door, do whatever they need to. But it was definitely a bummer this is our first year,” said Cook.

The Board cannot force the residents to do this, but Marcoux said that he does not want to create tension in the neighborhood.

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