RARITAN, NJ - Halloween will look a little different this year, but the Raritan Borough Council and Mayor Zachary Bray will not cancel the holiday.

Raritan will be enforcing the guidelines outlined by the state and New Jersey Department of Health for celebrating Halloween amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are not going to be in the business of cancelling Halloween for our children,” Bray said. “However, the guidelines do state, of course, practicing social distancing, trying our best to keep a mask on if you’re not going to be able to practice the social distancing and limiting your groups when your trick or treating.”

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The council asks that trick or treaters limit their groups to people within their households.

If residents are not comfortable having trick or treaters come to their doorstep, they are asked to leave a signal such as a sign on the door or porch lights turned.

“We are going to leave it up to the residents’ discretion to do so,” Bray said.

The NJ Department of Health’s Halloween Celebration Guidance document states that “those planning celebrations or participating in Halloween activities should keep in mind public health recommendations of social and physical distancing, wearing masks that cover the nose and mouth and hand hygiene. Costume masks are not an acceptable substitute for cloth or disposable masks. Individuals should minimize interaction and contact with others who are not a part of their household.”

Residents who want to hand out candy to trick or treaters in NJ are urged to wear masks and wash hands regularly, according to the guidelines. It is listed as a “better” option for residents to leave a candy bowl on the porch and the “best” option is listed as arranging individually packaged candy so that trick or treaters can grab and go without reaching their hands into a shared bowl.

A social media post is planned to inform Raritan residents about the regulations, Bray said. For the most part, the borough will be sticking to the state’s outlined guidelines without crafting any Raritan-specific rules.

The police chief has been directed to have officers on constant patrol throughout the holiday to ensure residents’ safety and that protocols are being properly followed. There is no curfew being enforced in Raritan specifically.

The annual Halloween parade, typically beginning at the Raritan Municipal Building, has been cancelled this year. In its place, residents are invited to decorate the pumpkins that have been left outside of Borough Hall.

The events committee coordinated the event as a way to keep residents engaged without the risk of breaking social distancing regulations. Local families are invited to take one pumpkin, decorate it at home, and bring it back to the building for display.

Winners in categories such as Funniest Pumpkin and Scariest Pumpkin will be announced on the town's Facebook page on Halloween.

It is not necessary to compete if residents wish to participate in decorating.

The age groups for the contest include preschool, 5 to 8, 9 to 12, teen and adult. To participate in the contest, residents must register their pumpkins by emailing the number on the bottom of the pumpkin, as well as their full name, address, phone, email and the age category to Lschulte@raritan-nj.org.