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No decision on trick-or-treating in Buffalo yet, as CDC calls it 'high risk'

WBFO file photo/Eileen Buckley

While the Centers for Disease Control considers Halloween trick-or-treating a risky idea this year, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown says no decision has been made yet on the popular tradition. But city officials are worried about large gatherings amid a subdued but continuing pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control has issued guidelines for holiday celebrations amid COVID-19, and it recommends families consider activities other than the usual door-to-door visits for candy.

While acknowledging the CDC's thoughts on trick-or-treating, Mayor Brown is not set on canceling it just yet.

"It's not even October yet. We have not made a decision yet in the city of Buffalo," he said. "We're certainly looking at it, and we will make an announcement at some point. But we're more than a month away at this juncture."

Rumors of canceling trick-or-treating first circulated earlier this month, leading Governor Andrew Cuomo to announce that he had no intention of canceling trick-or-treating and would leave it up to individuals to use their own judgment.

What does concern Brown and city officials are the prospects for large parties, especially involving college students and young adults, with Halloween falling on a Saturday this year. More than a month ago, the mayor stated, the city began a partnership with local colleges and universities to advise students and discourage them from large group events, in order to prevent a possible super-spreader environment.

That hasn't stopped many students from partying since the fall semester began.

"It is disappointing. Students are putting themselves at risk. They're putting family members at risk. They're putting members of the community at risk," Brown said. "We continue to advise them against mass gatherings. We do not want to criminalize our young people, so we continue to educate. We continue to talk. Buffalo Police are out and patrolling our city. Building inspectors are out and patrolling. And our area colleges have done a very good job. They've been very aggressive in talking to their students about safety as it relates to COVID-19."

Meanwhile, Mayor Brown was asked about another upcoming holiday, New Year's Eve, and whether he and city officials may already be having thoughts about whether to host the city's annual Ball Drop. Tens of thousands of visitors gather in the vicinity of the Electric Tower every December 31 to watch the ball slowly descend to mark the transition into a new year.

"Again, it's a long way away," he replied. "We haven't made that decision at this point. We're certainly looking at all of these major events that bring out thousands of people in our community. And we will make a decision in due time, so people know what the guidance is in the City of Buffalo

"Again, the CDC is recommending against trick-or-treating. The CDC continues to recommend against any mass gatherings and we continue to send that guidance out throughout our community."

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.