How Temple students are celebrating Halloween in a pandemic

As COVID-19 cases rise, many students have opted to stay in and watch scary movies for the holiday.

(Left) Annette Ditolvo, a junior social work major and Emma Borgstrom, a junior social major, sit outside the Charles Library on Oct. 31. | JEREMY ELVAS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Under normal circumstances, Emma Borgstrom would have celebrated Halloween the way that many college students her age do: dressing in costumes and going out to a party with her friends.

But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s celebrations for Borgstrom, a junior social work major, were scaled back. She spent Friday night with some close friends watching Halloween movies, with no one dressed in costumes. 

“I wore a shirt last night that was kind of Halloween related, but other than that, it was pretty typical night,” Borgstrom said.

Amid city restrictions on indoor gathering due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students have found alternative ways to celebrate Halloween this weekend by participating in quieter, lower-risk festivities with their roommates. 

The City of Philadelphia advises people to hold indoor gatherings of 25 people or less and to celebrate Halloween only with their immediate household or virtually with friends.

Borgstrom said she wanted to carve a pumpkin, but couldn’t find any stores or pumpkin patches that were open by the time she got to her friend’s house on Friday, she said.

“There wasn’t really any places open that had pumpkins near us, so we didn’t end up doing that,” Borgstrom said.

Ian McDonald said Halloween doesn’t quite feel like past years, since no one in his residence hall seems to be planning on celebrating and he isn’t dressing up in costume or watching Halloween movies, he said.

“We forgot to do any of that stuff at all,” said McDonald, an undeclared freshman. “Halloween just kind of came up out of nowhere.”

McDonald said he and his friends have been planning to play a game of poker to celebrate the holiday. 

“Pretty much with the whole entire virus going around, it’s kind of hard to do anything but a few of us were planning on playing a poker game,” he added. “We’ve been planning out gambling with fun sized candy snacks.”

Annette Ditolvo is planning to stay in her apartment and watch scary movies with her roommates this year, she said.

Ditolvo, a junior social work major, and her roommates dressed up in costumes last weekend and decorated their apartment for fun, but didn’t go out anywhere, she added. 

“I did decorate my apartment with pumpkins and stuff like that, but I didn’t end up carving them,” she said. 

In a typical year, Ditolvo said she would go out to a party, but she doesn’t want to risk potentially getting or spreading COVID-19 this weekend 

“It would be nice to go to a costume party cause those are always fun, but I’ll settle for just being in my apartment this year,” she said. 

As of Oct. 30, there are 69 active cases of COVID-19 among students and employees, The Temple News reported. 

Philadelphia County had an average increase of almost 362 cases per day in the last week, the New York Times reported.

Olivia Passarelli said she has been watching scary movies with her roommates, but isn’t planning to celebrate otherwise. 

“I’m not even celebrating this year, it’s so sad,” said Passarelli, a sophomore undeclared major. “Normally I would celebrate, but this year I’m not even, like I forgot it was even Halloween, so I’m not even doing anything.”

Ryan Sayers went to a party dressed as Bill Nye the Science Guy on Friday, he said.

He said most of the people there were people he has been seeing throughout the semester, and that his Halloween was not that different from last year.  

“I did pretty much the same last year,” said Sayers, a sophomore finance major. “Last year there was probably more people at the party.”

Borgstrom isn’t upset to be staying in this year because she is concerned about potentially spreading COVID-19 and doesn’t want to make other people uncomfortable, she said.

“Definitely going to hang in,” she said. “Maybe I’ll get to carve a pumpkin before tonight’s over.”

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