Scarecrow contest rings in the fall season in Woodburn
The global pandemic has changed almost every aspect of daily life in 2020, and traditional Halloween practices will be no different.
With Trick or Treat 2020 on the horizon, health officials are recommending a number of procedural adaptations to ensure public safety.
Ironically, in Woodburn Halloween may trigger a brighter side of what many consider a dark year. That's the intention of city of Woodburn which has orchestrated an unprecedented, citywide scarecrow decorating contest.
Woodburn Economic Development Specialist Amanda Setzer is the point person on the activity. She said the contest, which began on Sept. 28, is geared toward encouraging the community to enjoy autumn and have a little fun doing it. The contest is open to everyone, including residents, businesses, schools and all community groups, and applications need to be registered with the city by Oct. 19.
Once all applications are in, city staff members will be out photographing the creations. Winners will be announced on Nov. 2. To make it a little more interesting, there will be gift card prizes: 1st prize is a $150 gift card, 2nd $100 and 3rd $50.
While fun is the contest's intent, an underlying element is public safety.
"This is our first ever contest and we're very excited to see what everyone comes up with!"Woodburn spokesperson Tommy Moore enthused. "Per safety precautions, traditional Halloween festivities are strongly discouraged this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so we wanted to do something that would still allow folks to feel engaged with some much needed fun."
The city's quest coincides with Marion County's public health objectives.
"Halloween is approaching and we want to make sure that our friends and family will be able to celebrate in a way that works for them," Marion County Public Health Division Director Katrina Rothenberger said. "The Oregon Health Authority and CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) do recommend that Oregonians avoid traditional door-to-door trick or treating or trunk-or-treating events, because they are at higher risk for crowding among people outside your household.
"We do have some tips on our website if people do decide to go trick or treating; we have some information, graphics and they are on our website at Covid-19.mchealthy.net under multiple languages."
Among those tips are: staying home if you are sick; talk with your children about safety and physical distancing; limiting your gatherings to 10 people or fewer; using duct tape or similar markings to measure out 6-foot lines in front of your house; participate in one-way trick or treating, handing out treats with a table positioned between yourself and your visitor; distribute treats on disinfected surfaces; safely preparing sanitary goodie backs to leave out for the kids.
While the overarching aim of Halloween is fun, this year a point of emphasis is safety.
"While the CDC and OHA do not recommend trick-or-treating this year due to the pandemic, we know many families will still do so," Marion County Health and Human Services spokeswoman Jenna Wyatt noted. "Therefore, we've created some materials to share to help families minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission this Halloween. The graphics are available at bit.ly/MCml. They are located under the 'Other Materials' section."
Rothenberger added: "We just have to adapt our new way of life so that we can reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in our community, but we still want to have a little bit of fun while we do that, right?"
Scarecrow contest entry
Applications are accepted through Monday, Oct. 19.
Applications can be submitted in person at the Woodburn Public Library, 280 Garfield St.; hours Monday-Tuesday noon to 7 p.m. and Wednesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Online applications are available at woodburn-or.gov/contests.
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