Halloween on Ryder Road this year is bound to be a little different than in past years. As some Ryder Road residents boycotted the event in order to reduce the amount of people last year, others are worried about a potential superspreader event.
Just two years ago, Ryder Road had approximately 1,200 to 1,500 people trick-or-treating on Halloween, according to residents. After the event, some residents believed it was a safety hazard for the children.
“There were safety issues, concerns about the kids,” Regina Im, a Village of Munsey Park trustee and Ryder Road resident, said. “I know that there was one child who happened to get lost and who actually wasn’t from the area. I knew that people had taken time to find the child’s parents. It ended up being like a very large mob scene.”
Im says that about half the residents, including herself, decided to put out a bowl of candy at their door last year and not participate in the festivities. The goal amongst neighbors was to reduce the crowd size for the following years in order to make it safe for children and have a more community feel to an event that brings a lot of out-of-towners.
They succeeded, Ryder Road had less of a mob scene this past year, but now there is a new problem.
The pandemic has put a wrench in almost everyone’s Halloween plans, but with very little guidance from the state or the Village of Munsey Park, residents will have to take matters into their own hands. To participate or not to participate in an event that could see 500-plus people on one road.
“I definitely think there will be people on Ryder Road and we definitely still want to give the children the Halloween experience,” Im, a resident of Ryder Road for the last seven years, said. “From my understanding and talking to neighbors, they’re going to do what they did last year. I think there will be houses that are participating and houses that will not be participating. I think next year it’s going to open up again a little bit more. The talk last year within Ryder Road was just to do it for a year or two, just to try and calm things down and make it more of a safer event for kids. I think people are still onboard with that, especially given the COVID situation.”
One resident, who was granted anonymity in fear of repudiation from neighbors, has decided they will not have candy on their doorstep and wishes that the trick-or-treat event would not happen this year.
“Ideally, I would really ask people not to congregate on Ryder Road this year,” said the resident of Ryder Road. “I don’t think that’s likely since there are so many little kids who look forward to it all year and parents don’t want to disappoint their children. But many events have had to be postponed or canceled. It’s really not safe for the people who will be congregating out in the street.”
The fear of a superspreader event is very real for this resident. There will be employees of the Village of Munsey Park to block off Ryder Road from vehicle traffic, but no one present to enforce mask-wearing or social distancing. If police are called, will they break up the large gathering, is also a question that does not have an answer.
“I think [a superspreader event is a] very real possibility depending on how many people are wearing masks and socially distant,” the resident said. “In other words, it’s not only that I’m fearing for myself if I go out in the middle of this, but if it does become a superspreader event, all the people that are out in the streets celebrating, what if we get a little cluster here in Manhasset as a result of this?”
What Halloween will look like in the midst of a pandemic is anyone’s guess. Staying safe for Ryder Road residents is the priority, for both themselves and those that wish to visit their street on Halloween.