A Halloween without tricks or treats: How students are celebrating this year


Diana Bravo

Megan Quirk sets up a plastic pumpkin basket outside a Colonial dorm in preparation for Halloween.

By Lucia Thorne

The pandemic is making it trickier to get treats.

Every year, the night of Oct. 31 normally calls for costume contests, frat parties, and trick-or-treating. But with the COVID-19 pandemic raging on, the college social gatherings that typically define the spooky holiday cannot exist safely as they have in previous years. But that isn’t stopping Emerson students from finding new ways to celebrate Halloween.

For first-year student Katherine Gustafson, the Halloween celebration began at the right at the beginning of the month. Each day, Gustafson sets time aside to watch one Halloween film of her choosing, either with a friend or on her own. 

“I love Halloween movies,” Gustafson said in a phone interview. “It’s my favorite time of year, so I watched a ton of movies every year anyway. I thought that since there wasn’t really anywhere to go this year, I might as well watch one everyday of October and make it a marathon.”

Some movies on her list include Frankenweenie, Beetlejuice, Coraline, and Halloweentown. Gustafson is saving 1993 cult favorite Hocus Pocus, a tale centered around three coven witches, for the night of Halloween. Eventually, Gustafon and her friends will be visiting Salem while dressed as Harry Potter characters. 

First-year student Spencer DeLorenzo will also be in costume this Halloween. He said he plans on interviewing Little Building elevator riders while dressed as a car salesman/gameshow host. 

“I’m going to dress up as a 70s car salesman, and I’m gonna try to sell some cars,” DeLorenzo said in an in-person interview. “I thought it would be really funny if I dressed up because this outfit also doubles as a game show host. So if I could find an old-looking microphone, I think I’ll get that, and I will interview people in the elevators.” 

The idea sprouted from a previous day of elevator interviewing. DeLorenzo and a friend of his were bored one day in late September and decided to ride the elevators for fun. It soon turned into the pair interviewing the riders by asking them questions like, “What should we get for dinner?” or “How are you doing today?” and “What’s your favorite color?,” DeLorenzo said. 

He said this may be an all-day event. He may also go trick-or-treating with his friends, even though he says he isn’t sure how, since this is his first time living in Boston. 

The city has not yet released formal Halloween guidelines for trick-or-treating. But the current step of the Massachusetts reopening plan, Phase 3, prohibits large indoor gatherings. As always, residents are required to wear masks and socially distance every night. 

Junior Claire Rodenbush is taking a remote approach to celebrating the holiday. They and their friend group are going to play their weekly game of Dungeons and Dragons, but with a twist. 

“The current campaign we’re running, we each have two characters,” Rodenbush said in a phone interview. “There’s an A team and a B team. The A team are heroes and the B team are villains. For Halloween, we’re being the villains. 

“It just fits thematically to do the evil, bad ones on Halloween, especially because [our characters] are in a spooky cult,” Rodenbush said. 

Their cult member is a flirtatious and mischievous shapeshifter. Rodenbush said they plan on dressing up for fun. But since they are playing remotely, they cannot wear costumes and play together in person.

“We do it over Discord, so we’re obviously not in person because of everything,” Rodenbush said. “At the very least, I will [dress up] for myself for fun. It’s also nice to have something scheduled that feels normal.” 

Junior Cassandra Maxim shared the same sentiment as Rodenbush when it came to making safe plans as the Sisterhood Trust and Love Chair for Sigma Pi Theta. Maxim says the sorority will be doing a virtual costume contest and Halloween hangout with trivia and movies. 

“I was thinking, ‘How can I make the spirit of Halloween transfer over to a virtual setting?’,” Maxim said in a phone interview. “It’s just a fun way to stay connected during Halloween and keep some of the spooky season spirit alive.”