CONWAY — Wearing a mask this Halloween is taking on a whole new meaning.
Conway Town Manager Tom Holmes said Monday that Recreation Director John Eastman and Assistant Director Mike Lane have developed guidelines for selectmen to consider at their meeting today regarding recommended Halloween practices in light of the pandemic.
“Mike (Lane) called other towns to see what they are doing,” said Holmes. “No decisions have been made yet by selectmen; they will be looking at putting up a trick-or-treat logo on participating houses willing to accept trick-or-treaters, as many people, as you know, are isolating during the pandemic.”
The recommendations may include encouraging small groups of trick-or-treaters, avoiding larger parties and wearing masks.
He said Conway Rec, pending selectmen’s permission, is planning a drive-thru Halloween party in late October.
Lane told the Sun on Monday: “It’s pretty much ideas for selectmen to discuss at this point. The gist of what I got from researching around the state is that a lot of towns have an idea but they are a bit hesitant at this point as they want to see how it all goes with the opening of schools and with the colder weather coming. But hopefully some ideas will be developed on how to keep kids and parents safe. Halloween is always a popular holiday, particularly with it happening on a Saturday this year.”
One recommendation would encourage parents and children to include creative costume design with their virus protection masks, such as clowns, princesses and ninjas.
Another is for small groups to travel within their own family, classmate or neighborhood pods.
Rather than wear latex gloves, they recommend using hand sanitizer between stops. Staying in one’s neighborhood is another recommendation under consideration.
Lane said in addition to logos being placed on houses, participating homes could turn their porch or outside doorway lights on to welcome little ghouls and goblins, a time-honored tradition even in non-pandemic times.
Rather than people distributing candy out of a communal bucket, Lane said they recommend placing candy one at a time on a porch or table to avoid hand contact.
In other items on today’s agenda, selectmen are to speak with Wally Campbell, executive director, and Dick Delaney, president, of the Valley Originals independent local restaurants association to discuss the effectiveness of the town’s implementation of seasonal outdoor dining permits in response to the pandemic once they were allowed to reopen with outdoor dining last spring.
“I think the program has worked pretty well,” said Holmes. “Some people back in spring started up without getting the permit to operate, but once they were told it was OK. I think Wally and Dick are coming in to ask if selectmen would be willing, weather permitting, to extend it this year beyond Columbus Day and to extend it to every summer.”
Selectmen will also get an update from the short-term rental committee update from committee chair, Steve Solomon, Conway’s fire chief. The panel’s next meeting is set for Wednesday, 3 p.m., at the Conway Village Fire Station.
Holmes said a report from one of two firms being considered to do an inventory of short-term rentals in Conway contends there are fewer this year — decreasing from 788 last year to 480 this year, due to homeowners living in, not renting out, their second homes, due to the pandemic.
Selectmen also are to vote on filling the trustee vacancy at the Conway Public Library. They were deadlocked 2-2 when they met on Sept. 8. This time, Selectman Steve Porter — not present for the earlier vote — is expected to attend and break the tie.
Selectmen are tasked with replacing Tim Westwig, who has moved out of Conway. There are three applicants: Kathy Bennett, marketing professional; Dorcas “Penny” Deans, a lawyer, and Allen Shapiro, a retired educator. Voting for Deans at last week’s short meeting at the polls were Selectman Carl Thibodeau and Selectmen Chair David Weathers while voting for Bennett were Selectmen Mary Carey Seavey and John Colbath.