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Halloween Is Happening In Concord — But Not On Auburn Street

Patch logo Patch 9/26/2020 Tony Schinella
a building lit up at night: Halloween in the West End of Concord in 2019. © Tony Schinella | Patch Halloween in the West End of Concord in 2019.

CONCORD, NH — Fear not, creatures and characters preparing for trick-or-treating, the city of Concord has not canceled Halloween yet due to the new coronavirus pandemic ... but it is going to be a bit different and possibly harder to find all the good candy haunts.

Stefanie Breton, the public information officer for the city of Concord said trick-or-treating will be held from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 30, in Penacook, and 5 to 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, in Concord, as has been the tradition in the city for many decades.

"At this point, the city is not cancelling Halloween since it is based on tradition and not governed by the city," Breton said. "We got similar questions last year due to the weather."

But many residents of one of the city's most popular and celebratory neighborhoods are canceling their traditional festivities due to COVID-19.

Residents of Auburn Street and Ridge Road, after requesting the city approve blocking the streets to traffic, as they have the last five years, have withdrawn that request and told the city they will not be hosting trick-or-treaters.

According to city records, a resident, who has helped to request closure of the streets in the past, made the request again by email in early September.

"I'm not sure what the city plans for Halloween with the current pandemic but, in the event that Halloween is still being held, I wanted to make sure that I got my request in," the note said.

City Manager Tom Aspell approved the request Sept. 10.

However, a week later, the resident who requested the closure emailed the city again to cancel. They said that not only did residents in the neighborhood not want the streets closed, they were not going to host trick-or-treating this year either.

"Since I submitted the request, the Auburn Street and Ridge Road residents have decided not to participate in the Halloween event this year due to the pandemic," the resident wrote. "It is in everyone's best interest to stay healthy. Thus, we will not need the street closed and hope for a fun time next year."

For legal reasons, the city redacted the name and email of the person involved due to privacy restrictions in the state's open records law. Two Auburn Street residents previously involved in requests to the city about closing streets did not return emails or phone calls from Patch seeking comment about the decision.

For more than 50 years, Auburn Street has been one of the busiest places to trick-or-trick, with as many as 1,500 to 2,000 children canvasing the streets for candy. Historically, homeowners get dressed up, some show movies, and one family has served ice cream for years. Five years ago, residents, requested the street be closed to traffic — for the safety of the ghouls and goblins who were out and about. But not this year.

On Friday, while speaking with several Auburn Street residents, they told Patch friends and neighbors had been discussing the closure and Halloween in general during the past few weeks. Some thought the coronavirus danger was too high. To discourage trick-or-treaters, homes not participating in Halloween in the tony West End neighborhood will not decorate their houses for the holiday and will not have their lights on during trick-or-treating hours either.

When it was suggested that this might make it more dangerous, since children showing up would have to navigate an open street, trying to reach any houses that might be participating, one resident suggested the city should cancel Halloween altogether.

At his news conference Thursday, Gov. Chris Sununu unveiled some recommendations for trick-or-treaters in 2020 including staying home if you are sick, wearing a mask or face covering, avoiding large gatherings or parties while also social distancing, and using hand sanitizer. But, he said, it would be up to local communities to make the decision whether to allow it or not.

It is unknown if the annual Halloween Howl event, sponsored by Intown Concord, will still be held.

Richard Slavin of Wedgewood Drive on the Concord Heights had a pretty cool Halloween display last year. He told Patch Saturday he would be setting up his Halloween display this year, for sure.

Here is what Halloween looks like in some parts of the West End in 2019.

Got a news tip? Send it to tony.schinella@patch.com. View videos on Tony Schinella's YouTube channel.

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