Celebrating Halloween safely and more

Here is the latest “Bugle Midpoint,” a mid-month Web report on some new local news and information since the publication of our October issue:

Avoid a scary Halloween during COVID-19

By Sarah CR Clark

Back in September, Lisa Troutman began wondering how her family would celebrate Halloween during the pandemic.

       She was not alone.

       A resident of St. Anthony Park, Troutman turned to that neighborhood’s list-serve to find what others were thinking. Troutman gathered neighbors’ responses, ideas and questions during her street’s National Night Out event.

       The response was strong: With masks on, socially distance innovations and celebratory spirits, St. Anthony Park is planning to keep one thing “normal” this year.

       “Everyone with whom we spoke felt committed to preserving the Halloween tradition of trick-or-treating,” Troutman said. That’s especially true with the holiday “ on a Saturday with a full moon in a year without a lot of ‘normal,’” she added.  

       Dr. Katie Loth, a behavioral epidemiologist and a parent of trick-or-treaters, noted, “Cases of COVID-19 are on the rise in Minnesota.  As we approach Halloween, we need to remember that the choices we make as a family and as a neighborhood have the potential to impact our community. The virus doesn’t care that it is Halloween.

       If we all commit to making smart choices, we can participate in the fun tradition of trick-or-treating while also maintaining our Saint Anthony Park values of caring deeply for members of our community, city and state.  But if we fail to make safe choices, trick-or-treating could add to additional cases – which is something none of us want.”

       Neighbors, as well as the Minnesota Department of Health, are offering several suggestions for safe Halloween trick-or-treating: Incorporate face masks in kids’ costumes. Create treat stations rather than door-to-door interactions. For example, hang treats on temporary clotheslines, arrange on tables or spread individual goodie bags on lawns. Have a small costume party outside at Langford or College parks. Launch treats down a PVC pipe into kids’ buckets.

       For families looking for very-low risk activities: Celebrate at home. Have a virtual costume contest. Decorate pumpkins. Decorate your yard.  

       And in this time of economic hardship, some generous neighbors have offered to donate treats if that would ease hardship for a family. Please email Ed Lotterman and Victoria Tirrel at viced@goldengate.net for more information. 

       Troutman is using her skills as a professional illustrator to promote safe Halloween celebrating. It’s been a nice diversion for Troutman, whose career has been disrupted because of the pandemic.  

       “I miss community listening sessions, where I would amplify marginalized and vulnerable voices,” she confessed. “My professional experience, my appreciation for how proactive the neighborhood is, the fact that I still have a studio full of tools and materials, and am parenting a trick-or-treating-age person, made me suspect I was qualified to solicit community feedback.” Troutman has created a vibrant, helpful visual to aid neighbors in their pandemic Halloween planning. (See her artwork accompanying this Bugle post.)

       Loth also offered this practical wisdom: “If we all commit to a few important safety steps, we can keep our friends and neighbors safe from COVID-19 and have fun trick-or-treating.       

  • First, families should plan to trick-or-treat only with others in their household. Don’t go out in big, mixed-household groups.
  • Second, all trick-or-treaters should wear a mask. Your costume mask doesn’t count – wear an additional face covering. 
  • Third, maintain a social distance of six feet from people not in your family. Neighbors should plan to distribute candy in creative ways that don’t require kids to come closer than six feet to you or others. 
  • Fourth, trick-or-treaters should avoid gathering in large groups before, during or after trick-or-treating. For this year, people should plan to skip Halloween parties and other group gatherings.”

Sarah CR Clark, of St. Anthony Park, is a regular Bugle freelance writer

Programs at Bell Museum

The Bell Museum, 2088 W. Larpenteur Ave., is featuring a number of special programs in October. They include:

Spooky Science: Halloween at the Bell Museum
October 21 – November 1.

In-museum demos include sheep brain dissections, owl pellet exploration and flesh-eating beetle meet-and-greets! Also, check out a new installation in the Touch & See Lab with a skull and skeleton focus.

In addition, the museum will have virtual programming leading up to Halloween with virtual tricks or treats. And the museum’s Whitney and Elizabeth MacMillan Planetarium will feature “Spooky Skies” with zombies (satellites) and ghosts (nebulae) and demons (stars) from October 22 to Nov. 1.  For further information, see https://www.bellmuseum.umn.edu/spooky-science/

Virtual Star Party
Friday, Oct. 23 from 8 to 9 p.m. Free

Grab your star map and enjoy telescope observing from wherever you are. The museum’s astronomy staff will guide you through the night sky from the comfort of your living room as our telescopes will live capture deep space objects and stream them to you virtually. This is an astronomy program for all ages. For further information, see https://www.bellmuseum.umn.edu/event/star-party-10-2020/

Nature Obscura:  A conversation with naturalist and author Kelly Brenner   
Tuesday, Oct. 27 at 7 p.m.

A ticket is required for this OnLine event. 

Brenner aims to help us rediscover our connection to the natural world that is just outside our front door—we just need to know where to look. Through photographs, stories and conversation, Kelly will introduce you to some of the overlooked nature that lives in our cities and offer tips on how to find it.
       Brenner is a naturalist, writer and photographer based in Seattle and is the author of “Nature Obscura: A City’s Hidden Natural World.”  She also has a website (www.metrofieldguide.com) that deals with urban nature, books, poetry, folklore and other natural history topics. For further information, see

Ask the librarian-Where can I vote?

Every week, the reference librarians at the Roseville Library receive dozens of questions from the public. Here is one of the more interesting queries we have received lately:

Q.  Where can I vote before Election Day?

A.  Even before the pandemic, increasing numbers of Minnesotans decided to vote early. In 2016, for example, just over 23 percent of voters in Ramsey County voted absentee. This year, interest in early voting appears to be even higher.

      If you have already received your absentee ballot, you can mail it back, as long as it is postmarked by November 3 and arrives at the County Elections Office by November 10.

       As a Ramsey County resident, you can also vote early in person or drop off your absentee ballot at several county locations, including the Ramsey County Library at Roseville. The Rondo Library in St. Paul is a drop-off site for absentee ballots.  Check the Ramsey County Elections website  https://www.ramseycounty.us/residents/elections-voting

for more information.  They even have an interactive map, showing your expected wait time at each of their early voting sites.

     If you live in Lauderdale, you may also visit the Lauderdale City Hall during regular office hours (8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.) to vote early.

(2016 statistics from the MN Office of Secretary of State www.sos.state.mn.us)

Judy Woodward, who lives in St. Anthony Park, is a reference librarian at the Roseville Library, 2180 N. Hamline Ave. The library’s general phone number is 651-724-6001.

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