Beggars’ Night Displays Cause COVID Concerns


(WHO 13)

DES MOINES, Iowa  —  As COVID-19 cases rise, Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie urges residents to reconsider Begger’s night activities.

But many people are not letting the fear of COVID stop them from enjoying the spooky holiday.

In October of 2020, it’s not the skeletons, ghosts or giant carved pumpkins that are scary, the real fear is people gathering and spreading COVID-19. Some folks say they have figured out a way to put on a Halloween Display safely this year, but others have decided to cancel theirs altogether.

“We are very conscious of the current environment. My dad is immunocompromised. So, we didn’t feel like we could do the type of gathering that we normally do in good conscience,” Des Moines resident David Johnson said.

Johnson has been putting on elaborate Halloween displays for the last four years.

“We try to be as involved as possible so we try to plan out having several exhibits that they can walk through and talk to talk with us so last year it was a circus theme, I was the ringmaster,” Johnson said.

The year before that the theme was Temple of Doom, before that it was zombie themed and the first year’s theme was a pirate graveyard. It’s not surprising the Johnson’s Halloween display became very popular

“Last year we had over 800 people in under two hours,” Johnson said.

Which is why this year, the display rests in peace.

“So, it was a bit crazy and there was no way we could do that amount of crowd while still being safe. I’m super sad about it honestly, I look forward to it all year we planned for months in advance, we had our theme and our project all planned out. And then at the beginning of the year as it started to escalate, we just decided that we couldn’t go forward with it,” Johnson said.

While the Johnson’s are keeping it low key, the Rhode’s are going all out with their Halloween display.

“A lot of people can’t do much right now. And for the kids at least to see a smile on their face, you know, makes you feel good. So, some, some to give back to the community,” Des Moines resident Tommy Rhodes said.

Rhodes said he will still hand out candy, but from a distance through a PVC pipe.

“Because it’s safer. And then so the kids still gonna have fun,” Rhodes said.

Rhodes said despite the risk, it’s important to create at least some sense of normalcy.

“It’s been a rough year. So, least takes your mind off of that and put it on some cool pumpkins. And the kids love it,” Rhodes said.

Begger’s Night is Friday, with trick or treating allowed from 6 to 8 p.m. throughout Des Moines.


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