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A pandemic Halloween isn't as scary as you may think

People are expected to spend more money this Halloween than last, but only about 50 percent of families will trick or treat.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Halloween is less than 50 days away. Candy and costumes are already lining store shelves, but trick or treating is still up in the air.

In a world where COVID-19 haunts us daily, the outlook for the holiday in East Tennessee isn't as scary as you think.

Spooky, yet trying to stay safe. That's the theme of Halloween during a pandemic. There's no question about it, Halloween will look different in 2020.

The virus is already changing big community events, which cuts deep for families.

"One of the things that's really hard for people to give up are these family traditions, things that they do every single year," the totwn of Farragut's PR and Marketing Coordinator Wendy Smith said. 

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In Farragut, the town changed its usual walk through trick or treating "fright night" event to a drive-thru option on October 30, called "Freaky Friday Drive-Thru Boo."

"Parents can feel good about it being a safe event," Smith said.

Families are able to dress up, drive through and get candy from a safe distance. They will need to reserve a spot beforehand so the staff can limit crowds.

But despite cancelled events, UT Retail Professor Michelle Childs said retail trends show more money will be made on Halloween this year than last. 

"It’s about $89 per person that’s gonna be spending on Halloween, which is up from $86 last year," Childs explained. "So it would be obviously a little more than that if we weren't where we are, but it's still actually looking really healthy for the industry."

The holiday is on a Saturday, with a full moon, blue moon and daylight saving time later that night. The holiday being on a weekend is playing in its favor and it's expected people will celebrate longer.

"So rather than just on that one day it's really just gonna be the whole month, starting right now actually," Childs nodded.

Childs said according to a national retail study, about 50 percent of families still plan to trick or treat. 

The CDC encourages socially distant candy bowls.

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"So if you are planning on handing out candy, it's a little more standardized now to leave it on the porch and things like that," Childs said.

Costumes with masks attached are more popular during the pandemic.

A website, created by the Halloween and Costume Association, shows ways families can stay safe during Halloween 2020 depending on the amount of COVID-19 cases in their area. An interactive map shows levels from green to red and options to stay spooky and safe are below each one at www.halloween2020.org