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Trick or Treat: COVID edition Colorful lights and gory decorations cut through the gloom of the pandemic in michigan NEIGHBORHOODs

By Shwetha Surendran

If there are snarky looking pumpkins atop doorsteps, skeletons hanging off fences, and a rendition of the "Monster Mash" playing on a loop, it can mean only one thing – Spooky season is here!

With Halloween right around the corner, and the pandemic making it a scarier ordeal, neighborhoods in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, have taken to their eerie décor and costumes to inject a semblance of normalcy into these unusual times.

Lights galore at a house in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan.

Abiding by the recommendations issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services in late September, in addition to the dazzling display of lights and creepy designs, houses also feature yard signs reading, “Sorry, no treats this year.”

Caption: A yard sign reflects the effects of COVID on Halloween activities.

“You get a free pass for candy twice a year – Easter and Halloween,” said Pamela McKee, a 67-year-old nurse at the Kaiser Medical Center.

Looking through her camera album filled with photos of her granddaughters in costume––one a princess and the other, Mal from Descendants––she hopes to keep the day special for her 10 grandchildren. A day at the local cider mill with a hayride, a petting zoo, and a lot of candy is on their weekend schedule.

For Theresa Lertola, 60, a small gathering at home seems to be the way to go.

“When my husband was alive, Halloween was always a good time. It was the fun-est! But my aunt, she was truly creative. She would always drive us to the richer neighborhoods for the big candy bars. She was the person who made Halloween fun for me,” she said.

Caption: Some children dance along to the Monster Mash on a driveway in Grosse Pointe Farms.

As people look back to their childhood to safely recreate some of that Halloween joy, others delve into their annual traditions.

On Tillson Street in Romeo, at least 15 houses continue their yearly tradition of going all out and decking their homes in numerous Halloween props. Usually, with over 20,000 visitors and almost 2,500 trick or treaters, Tillson Street and Halloween are inexplicably tied.

Choosing to put up their props and lights amidst the pandemic, they hope it brings a smile to those who visit.

A display titled, "Are you saying Yes to Distress?" on Tillson Street, Romeo.

A Halloween-themed Saloon ensemble is one of the attractions on display on Tillson Street for many years.

Boxed and boarded, spiders and other creep-crawlies cover the walls of a house on Tillson Street, Romeo.

In no mood to get the decorations out, ingenuity and invisible monsters save the day.

For more of the Halloween creativity that adorned the Michigan neighborhoods :

“My opinion is that this is for the kids. They’ve gone without seeing their friends and going to the movies or playing football for a long time. I think people are smart enough to know that they can come safely with their families, wear a mask, keep a distance, and have a fun time,” said Tillson Street resident Maria Kare.

Caption: Families take a stroll through the decked out Tillson Street in Romeo, Michigan (top). A group walks along enjoying the lights (bottom left). Families gather around stalls filled with mechanical Halloween creatures (bottom right).
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Shwetha Surendran
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