What a COVID Halloween Taught Me About the Persistence of Humans…

Dan Duffy
4 min readNov 2, 2020

If there is anyone I know that has absolutely done what she could to shatter the sadness of COVID, it’s my friend Molly. During the first couple of months of the pandemic, she knew how important it was to keep the neighborhood children engaged. In that spirit, she was a large part of what was, essentially, a “Doorway Seek and Find.” There was a theme each week, and like many in the neighborhood, she and her family would decorate their front door so that kids could walk around and find that week’s artwork.

Once, it was a garden. Another week was sports-themed. And it always made my wife and I happy when we walked our dog past their house.

She was also an idealist. She put up on her Facebook page that if anyone was struggling with being furloughed and needed a meal, to PM her and she would make sure that the family would not go hungry for a night or two. It inspired me to put it on my page, as well.

She’s also a realist. I’m still a fan of this little gem: “Your COVID alcoholic moniker is your first name followed by your last name.”

Tough but fair.

We live in St. Louis, Missouri, where it is an interesting dichotomy. Many of the public schools are only starting to have in-person classes, while private schools have been open for a while. Sure, sometimes it’s spit and baling wire at times, but they’re making it work. Most everyone wears a mask whenever they’re out and about, and even many churches have figured out the social distancing aspects. Yes, there are still things you just can’t do. Funerals, for instance, are virtually non-existent for anyone to attend but family members. But for the most part, people are trying to be smart while living as normal a life as possible, even if it’s sometimes begrudgingly so.

Which is why I was very curious to see how Halloween was going to be handled this year. Usually, our neighborhood might as well have search lights emanating from it each October 31st. There’s tons of houses, many affluent, and you can get a large amount of teeth-wreckers in a very short period of time. Folks from all over the area come in to trick-or-treat, and everyone is welcome.

This year, however, did not have much of that. It was primarily neighborhood kids walking around, so the turnout was not going to be even half of what it usually is when all was said and done. As we drove through the neighborhood at the beginning of the evening, just as kiddos were starting to emerge, we saw some cool displays… along with parents setting tables up to give out candy in a socially distanced-friendly manor. I just hoped that whatever kids did manage to venture out would have a good time. I had grossly underestimated the spirit of humans to adapt to a new reality.

When we got to our destination for the evening, not only had our friends set up Halloween decorations, but they made one of the coolest things ever: a shoot that basically went from the top of their stairs to the middle of their driveway that you could fire candy down to waiting pillow cases, which have apparently come back into fashion to be used as loot bags.

I mean seriously… how cool is this thing?!

A Twix Bazooka.

But I truly didn’t get the full scope of what happened on Halloween night until the next day, when my wife Stephanie said, “Did you see Molly’s pictures last night? They’re amazing!”

So it started with this…

Molly’s race car driver.

And then went to this…

Decisions… decisions…

… and this.

Exhibit A: a Skittles canon.

But what really hit me was what Steph said about this most unusual Halloween.

“You know, COVID is eventually going to end… please God. And a lot of the bad memories that went along with it are going to eventually fade. But last night? Last night is something that parents will talk about when they’re old and gray and sitting around reminiscing. Just the fact that during a pandemic, they adapted and made it the best Halloween they possibly could for their kids. And was it perfect? No. But it was memorable, and I guarantee you that last night meant more to those kids than other Halloweens, because it was a glimpse of normalcy of the way things used to be, and the way things will hopefully be again.”

And with that, even with the craziest election of the last 100 years right around the corner, my faith in the human spirit was restored. These are the things we have to see, and feel, and hold onto, and share, and pursue during these next months… when our resolve to be better humans will be tested like very few times in our lives.

So to the folks who went the extra mile to make it a lovely night for all kiddos, you have my undying gratitude. And to the houses that gave my son Ben “King Size” candy bars, you have his undying gratitude.

Dude is set for months.

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Dan Duffy

Hi, I’m Dan. I’m a husband, dad, cancer survivor, video producer, author, accidental activist, and fan of all things lovely.