By Tony E. Windsor

Last Monday night, Laurel Mayor and Council held its first council meeting at town hall since earlier this year when the COVID-19 pandemic restricted public gatherings. The meeting was also offered via teleconferencing to allow those in the public who would rather not attend in person to hear council proceedings. Town Manager Jamie Smith said the Oct. 5 meeting agenda was deliberately kept “light” to allow a trial run with the teleconferencing equipment.

The council continued its discussions regarding plans for the annual “Trunk or Treat” event, planned for Saturday, Oct. 24. Smith said she has applied to the state for a permit that will allow an outside event with as many as 250 people participating. She has also made a request to the Laurel School District for use of the Laurel Elementary School parking lot to hold the event.

She said that given the size of the parking lot it would enable adequate social distancing, required by current COVID-19 health restrictions. Pending the state and school district approvals, plans call for having vendors set up in the parking lot where school buses traditionally pick up and drop off students. Smith said there are 25 tentative vendors and each will set up six to 10-feet apart.

Those attending the event would enter at the bus entrance and groups will be allowed to enter one at a time. Once the first group has made it to the second vendor, the next group will be ushered in, and so forth.

The last vendor will be located at the bus exit location so that those attending the event will enter and exit from separate locations, avoiding any undue close contact. Volunteers will be on hand to help direct attendees and ensure social distancing and that all participants wear masks at all times.

Smith said it had not been determined how the candy will be handed out in order to minimize any unnecessary contact. Council President Chris Calio suggested that each vendor have one person be designated to drop the candy in the children’s Halloween containers. They could then use hand sanitizer to help ensure added safety. “This is better than laying the candy out on a table and having the kids pick it up,” Calio said. “That would involve a lot of efforts to try and keep the table surface sanitized. It would be better to have one person dropping the candy in and keeping their hands consistently sanitized.”

Smith said once the town has secured the state permits and received approval from the school district, flyers would be distributed throughout the community to promote the event. She is also asking the school district to do an automated “OneCall” to parents announcing the event.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Laurel Mayor John Shwed said he is hoping the town is given approval by the state to hold the Trunk or Treat event this year. “I really want to see our kids be able to have some fun,” he said.