Brookfield Trustees Ron Haun and Gary Lees chose not to set trick-or-treat this year, instead leaving it up to individual neighborhoods.
They also announced that the township will collect candy, bag it up and drop it off at Brookfield schools for distribution to students in grades kindergarten through eighth-grade, an alternative to door-to-door trick-or-treating.
Trustee Dan Suttles argued to allow door-to-door trick-or-treating from 5 to 7 p.m. Oct. 31, the time recommended by the Trumbull County Combined Health District, but Haun and Lees said they believed setting trick-or-treat hours would open the township to legal liability if there would be an outbreak of COVID-19.
Gov. Mike DeWine left it up to individual communities to decide whether or not to set trick-or-treat, and the health department recommended three options: traditional trick-or-treat, a drive-through Halloween or a trunk-or-treat, where adults would hand out candy from the back of their cars at a set location.
Suttles put the question out on Facebook and residents who responded overwhelmingly favored traditional trick-or-treat. He said 60 residents lobbied for it, two were against and two were indifferent.
“I think we should at least respect what our residents want to do,” Suttles said.
He said no residents are ever forced to participate, and he suggested that residents place bowls of candy on tables in their yards and keep their distance as costumed kids approach and select treats. He added that Hubbard township and city, Sharon, Vienna and Fowler all have chosen to hold trick-or-treat; Brookfield kids would go to those localities if Brookfield does not set a date.
Haun said he is concerned about the safety of older residents – many of whom he said would not social distance – and school children.
“I get what everybody wants to do, but, as far as a community and doing the responsible thing, to help do the safest thing,” Haun said. “I had talked to numerous people, safety forces people, educators and things of that nature. The safest thing to do is, if people want to go out and they want to trick-or-treat and they want to do those things on their own, I’m not gonna sit here as a trustee and say that they can’t do that, but I don’t wanna give them my blessing. It is up to them to take the safety protocols and do those things. If we have an outbreak in the community, it’s not the trustees’ fault because we said it’s OK.”
If residents choose to participate in trick-or-treat, he said he hopes they do it during the hours recommended by the health department.
In terms of the township candy drive, “That way, as far as the township’s concerned, we’re being as responsible as we possibly can to avoid contact,” Haun said. “We’re also ensuring every kid gets a treat doing that in grades K through 8.”
Because the trustees’ meetings are broadcast on Facebook Live, residents who watch can post comments as the meeting proceeds, and several criticized the decision of Lees and Haun.
“Let the individuals choose what they are comfortable doing and hope that they all do so safely and responsibly,” Tracie Hunter posted.
“Kids younger than kindergarten trick-or-treat,” Carla Stearns said. “You’d miss them and the children remote learning.”
“Sorry … need to include high school, too,” said Leona Bandy Harden. “Good, clean, safe fun for them. Not out causing trouble!”
“Let people do what they want,” said Jesse Darby.
Lees said anyone who wants to contribute to the candy drive can drop off donations at the township building, 6844 Strimbu Drive.