ROCKLIN, Calif. — You've heard it before: Halloween is going to look different this year.
Though trick-or-treating is still on the table for kids during the coronavirus pandemic, many have been wondering how exactly handing out candy will look like with safety modifications in place.
This was the dilemma Matthew Oliver, owner of House of Oliver and father to a two-year-old, was facing when he decided to bring some visual cues to Halloween 2020.
"You know what I'm finding is, is that as soon as one person puts it in their yard, all of the neighbors are reaching out, saying 'Can we get one of these signs?'" Oliver said.
Oliver created "trick-or-treating" signs for neighbors to put in their front yards. The sign says "Halloween Night: Trick or Treating Welcome Here."
This visual aide should take some of the guesswork out of which homes are trick-or-treating friendly, a task that has seemed difficult due to the pandemic.
"He just turned two years old," Oliver said of his son and why he created the signs in the first place. "It's his first year trick-or-treating and he was so excited to be able to go out, go door-to-door. Then with the COVID world, it was like 'What's gonna happen? What are we actually doing this year?"
There is certainly a balancing act this year for parents as they try to keep their families healthy and respect other people's safety, all while still having a candy-filled, celebratory holiday that their children can enjoy.
Placer County, for example, where Oliver's family lives, recently put out guidelines for a "safer Halloween." The guidance encourages wearing face coverings and handing out candy outdoors, rather than having trick-or-treaters go up to the front door.
However, community members may be wondering just how many of their neighbors plan on participating in candy handouts at all this year, due to the extra precautions that must be taken.
As soon as the idea for yard signs popped into his head, Oliver canvassed his neighborhood to gauge interest.
"My son and I actually went door-to-door to about 100 homes, left them a letter that said if you'd like to participate this year in Halloween, we'd love to leave one of these signs in your front yard, that way we knew exactly where to go," Oliver said.
The response was overwhelming.
"I was expecting a very small response. We've handed out over 50 signs already this year, of neighbors putting these in their yards," Oliver said.
Oliver started getting calls from people outside of his neighborhood. People in Granite Bay, Lincoln and Roseville were asking about the signs.
"I was driving all over putting yard signs -- I felt like I was running for office," Oliver said.
As the requests are still coming in, Oliver has switched from a delivery system to a pick-up system. People who are interested in the signs can pick them up at House of Oliver in Rocklin.
The signs are free and only while supplies last. Those who go to House of Oliver can simply ask for a sign and be on their way. Oliver says he wants this year's Halloween festivities to be full of fun and candy.
"I think the ultimate goal is to have a fun, exciting evening," Oliver said. "So much has not been normal, you start looking for ways you can celebrate and experience some level of normal."
As for Oliver's family, their costumes are prepped and ready to go, though he won't say what they are going as.
"This is high, very secure secretive stuff," Oliver said. "We have costumes this year. He is ready...we have an amazing costume put together and people are just going to have to wait and see."
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