CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Halloween is just seven weeks away. Last year, Americans spent $9 billion on the spooky holiday putting it second only to Christmas. But as Halloween creeps closer this year, the uncertainties around the holiday continue to grow, as COVID-19 threatens to impact everything from trick-or-treating to costume sales to local pumpkin patches.
Parents are split on whether trick-or-treating can be done safely. Wednesday, the office of the Mecklenburg County Public Health Director said county guidelines for trick-or-treating will be released within the next couple of weeks.
Businesses however are also split, take haunted attractions for example.
The Hickory Grove Haunted Trail in Gastonia, which has been in business for more than 20 years, said they’re choosing not to open this season. Co-owner Eric Woodward said the attraction typically brings 1,000 attendees a night and he said they thought it safest not to open.
But at Midway Wicked Woods in Statesville, hiring underway with plans to open October 2.
COVID-19 is also greatly affecting area farms, home to family Fall favorites from pumpkin patches to hayrides.
“We really didn’t have a choice to say we’re not going to open because this is our livelihood and we’ve been impacted greatly since March,” said Bonnie Griffin, owner of Aw Shucks Farm in Monroe, N.C.
Griffin said her farm has lost most of its income for the year and is hoping Fall visitors will give them the boost they need to stay open.
“That’s actually a really emotional question for us because it is life or death in terms of our farm and we really want to save it, we don’t want to give up our business, it’s something that I’ve put so much work into,” she said.
Griffin said she’s trained her staff and has set up hand sanitizing stations all throughout the farm, adding that the farm is on 40 acres providing lots of space for visitors to spread out.
“We also have staff that’s been trained to disinfect areas like the playground and things like that so each staff member will have their own kit and will be doing that in between visitors,” she said.
The farm features farm animals, hayrides, a pumpkin patch, and three corn mazes. Griffin said this year they’ve added a haunted attraction popular to teens.
“We miss our visitors,” she said, “We’re looking to the fall and we’ve taken all of the precautions to open, so we’re ready.
For others, like Hodges Family Farm in Charlotte, COVID-19 so devasting the farm announced there is no pumpkin patch this year.
On their website the farm says:
“Just as everyone in our community has had to come to grips with “the new normal”, we have adjusted our focus towards producing food and developing our online shop with contactless curbside pickup protocols. We decided, in light of the pandemic, not to move forward with the expensive and labor-intensive task of planting, maintaining, and harvesting pumpkins this year.”
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