I love the chill in the air and the magic and folklore of the autumn holidays. With so many different traditions and holidays coming up, I'll argue that this season (not winter) is the most wonderful time of the year. We have The Chinese Moon Festival, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Oktoberfest, Eid al-Ahda, Diwali, Halloween, Día de los Muertos, Mabon and Samhain, and Hallelujah Festivals, just to name a few. And these are just the holidays I know about. I am sure this list is incomplete.
While I am partial to Día de los Muertos, my children's favorite fall holiday is Halloween. It is the one day of the year it is perfectly acceptable to take free candy from the neighbors simply by saying "trick-or-treat." They also wear a costume to school, march in a parade, and most importantly, have a later bedtime. As a parent with children who have special needs, I am thankful this is one childhood experience my children can participate in without limitation.
Unfortunately this is not the case for every child. Many children with dietary restrictions, food aversions, and allergies are unable to enjoy the fall tradition of trick-or-treating on Halloween. But it doesn't have to be this way. Adults can solve this problem by participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project and providing non-edible treats for children to accept on Halloween night.
What is the Teal Pumpkin Project? It is an initiative sponsored by FARE (Food and Allergy Research and Education) that promotes non-edible treats be given away during Halloween.
So how does the Teal Pumpkin Project work?
- Get a pumpkin and paint it teal. Put it outside your door if you are willing to host trick-or treaters. You can purchase teal colored plastic buckets as well.
- If you are comfortable, register the location where you are accepting trick-or-treaters (map is not yet live, but you can sign up to be notified when it is). This will allow the families who are actively searching for non-edible treats to find you. FARE does not share or sell your information, it is only used to create this database. Families who are looking for offerings of safe places to trick-or treat will be happy to see more places.
- Finally, on the day of your event, provide the option of non-food trinkets and toys in a separate bowl (preferably teal) and make your fall festivals safer and more inclusive for all trick-or-treaters!
But what about COVID? Social Distancing? How can we make this a safe fall season for everyone?
Never fear, FARE, the CDC, and Alameda County Health department has your back! There is an abundance of recommendations that allow for a safe and fun fall season. Here are a few suggestions for Halloween:
- Your fun costume's mask is NOT a replacement for your cloth mask. So decorate your mask to compliment your costume/outfit.
- If you are planning to distribute treats, prepare pre-made goody bags in advance. This allows for the candy to be touched as little as possible. Don’t forget to use teal for the non-edible ones.
For more information about a COVID-Friendly Halloween, see the CDC's Holiday Celebrations Tips. Let's stay safe and make some wonderful memories for our children.