Favorite Fall Acitivites and COVID-19

Written by Maeve Bauer, Sarah Burns, Teagan Russell, and Aidan Johnson

Fall is the time of year when people want to come together for popular autumn activities.  However, COVID-19 has mandated safety changes for families and local businesses.

A poll done in early October 2020 by Maeve Bauer

Some fall favorites remain unchanged. “My family and I often make pumpkin pies during the holidays, and that is something we can do that is still fun but safe,” Woodgrove senior Makani Johnson stated. When asked about fall endeavors, Woodgrove senior Alexis Cole responded, “Carving pumpkins and seeing all the cool Halloween decorations and costumes are some of my favorite fall activities. Still meeting up while practicing socially distancing is still fun.” 

Other fall activities have had to adjust. Haunted houses are a large attraction for many Woodgrove students, but they are one of the more dangerous fall activities with COVID-19 infection rates on the rise. 

Many local haunted houses closed this year, including Shocktober in Leesburg and Fields of Fear in Centreville. Some haunted houses have changed to outside-only to maintain a 6-foot distance between actors and the public. Workhouse Arts Center Haunted Trail in Lorton, Virginia is hosting a socially distant outdoor drive-through haunted experience. 

Other haunted houses are continuing indoors with safety precautions like required masks, temperature checks, maintaining a 6-foot distance, and providing hand sanitizer.  

Pumpkin picking is an activity enjoyed by people of all ages, but with the threat of the coronavirus, the question is how safe it will be. Sam McMullen, an employee at Depaul’s Urban Farm in Vienna, explains why they encourage guests to wear masks and why staff are required to wear masks. They’ve also placed hand sanitizing stations around the farm. 

The entrance to DePaul’s Urban Farm. Photo by Dolly Flanagan

In terms of social distancing, McMullen said, “People are respectful of others, children have been the largest problem; they don’t fully understand.”

A campsite at Brunswick Family campground. Photo from Brunswick Family Campground

Another popular fall activity, camping, is also impacted by COVID-19. Some campgrounds, such as Brunswick Family Campground, have taken this challenge head on and enacted a COVID-19 plan including sanitization and social distancing services for visitors. In turn, guests promise to maintain practices that keep everyone safe. 

Some examples of employee practices for the campground include disinfecting bathrooms once a day on weekdays and twice on weekends, wearing face masks while indoors, and frequent hand washing.

When asked how business has fared in comparison to other years, Brunswick Family Campground manager John Gonano responded with, “Demand has been high. We have been basically at capacity since Memorial Day weekend. Revenues are up about 10% from last year.”

Despite the threat of COVID-19, campgrounds are still as popular as ever. In fact, there have even been some improvements made to the business as a result of the virus. Gonano states, “We raised prices and limited capacity in our tent camping area. This ended up being easier to manage and provided a better quality camping experience for our guests.”

This year more than ever, it’s important to take part in the fall traditions that bring joy, but it’s equally important to be safe.