The city-sponsored Trail of Treats, which draws thousands to the Owensboro riverfront each year, has been canceled because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Even prior to making the announcement, City Manager Nate Pagan wasn’t optimistic about what would be the 31st annual Trail of Treats taking place.

“That event is unlikely to occur just because of the nature of the event and the proximity of the patrons,” Pagan said.

For the majority of the event’s history, the Trail of Treats was held at Moreland Park under the purview of the Owensboro Parks and Recreation Department.

The city’s largest trick-or-treat event was moved from Moreland Park in 2012.

It was then placed under the public events department’s umbrella.

The event typically takes place on the Thursday before Halloween.

It allows parents and their costumed-children to visit more than 70 candy booths, which are usually decorated in a Halloween theme and sponsored by local businesses and nonprofits. They’re set up downtown and along the riverfront.

Clay Horton, Green River District Health Department public health director, said he had been in contact with the city about the Trail of Treats.

“We can have good discussions with the city and different organizers about if an event can be modified to where it can be safe, or is it better to cancel for this year,” Horton said. “We have had those types of conversations about many things — not just trick-or-treating and Halloween.”

Despite Trail-of-Treats being canceled, the traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating on Halloween will still be an option.

Horton said that Halloween is different in that it’s not a city- or county-sponsored event that can be easily canceled.

“That’s not organized or controlled by any one entity,” Horton said. “That’s just people interacting with their community. I think we will be left to just giving advice.”

Both Pagan and Judge-Executive Al Mattingly indicated that the ultimate decision about any trick-or-treating that takes place within the city and county will likely be left up to parents and residents alike.

“We could have a Halloween where people who don’t want kids there just turn their lights off, or people who want kids there turn their lights on and set the treats out on the porch,” Mattingly said. “Parents make the decisions. Some parents won’t want their kids out and some might. The good news is most of it takes place outside.”

On Monday, the GRDHD reported 36 new COVID-19 cases within its region — with 14 in Daviess County.

If the COVID-19 numbers don’t decrease between now and Halloween, Horton said it would give him “pause” about parents allowing their children to go out trick-or-treating.

“We have a pretty high level of spread in the community right now, and so if Halloween were this week, it would concern me greatly,” Horton said. “But we’ll see where we are in about six weeks from now.”

If children do go trick-or-treating this year, the city does have recommended safety guidelines:

• General Trick-or-Treating hours are from 5 to 8 p.m.

• Do not approach homes with lights turned off

• Limit trick-or-treating groups to no more than 10 people

• Distribute pre-packaged treats only (nothing homemade)

• Wear face coverings if 6 feet of social distance cannot be maintained

• Wash/sanitize your hands before eating any treats/candies

• Be courteous to those around you by maintaining at least 6 feet social distance

Don Wilkins, dwilkins@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7299

Don Wilkins, dwilkins@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7299

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