Families are being challenged to think outside the box this year with Halloween and recreate the holiday to be fun and safe.
Since the CDC advises adapted celebrations this year—as most past Halloween celebrations are considered high risk—families have taken it upon themselves to make Halloween a safe holiday without compromising on the fun.
From candy chutes to hazmat suits, nothing is off the table this year.
Annie Linebarger's kids are too young to trick or treat but that hasn't stopped her family from participating in Halloween this year. Linebarger said her neighborhood, Old Enfield in West Austin, is a popular one for trick-or-treaters and her family usually expects hundreds of children.
"I would love to just pass out candy and wear masks and gloves, but I think that you just get too close to too many people," Linebarger said. "I actually don't think very many people will come (this year)."
Linebarger said her husband originally bought a hazmat suit to pass out candy, however, instead she and her husband plan to set up a decorated table on their porch with pre-packaged bags of candy so contact is kept to a minimum.
"I think that this is a good way I can provide something, and whether or not people will come, there'll be candy there," Linebarger said. "It is what it is, so we will just make the best of it."
Many families are following in the Linebarger's footsteps, setting up tables with packaged goods. For even less contact, some families are gluing popsicle sticks to candy and sticking it in their front yard.
Better yet, some families have made their candy part of the decorations.
Laura Nattinger's family intends to wear masks, socially distance and only trick-or-treat at houses that are doing the same in their Brushy Creek neighborhood. In fact, her son even has a mask to match his King George costume from Hamilton.
Additionally, themed masks seem to be a popular choice this year.
Nattinger's family is taking trick-or-treating to the next level with a candy chute placed in one of their upstairs windows. While they are still working out the kinks and plan to decorate the chute, Nattinger said her kids are excited about the new take on Halloween.
"The kids are jazzed about it being something new and different this year," Nattinger said. "All the creativity is fun."
The Nattinger family doing a test run of their candy chute, which they plan to decorate with lights.(Laura Nattinger)
Even if your family decides not to pass out candy, there are still plenty of ways to celebrate from home. Activities like carving pumpkins, watching Halloween movies, decorating the house and scavenger hunts are considered low-risk activities by the CDC.
Linebarger said she doesn't think this Halloween needs to be a disappointment for children and with a little bit of positivity, they might enjoy it just the same.
"I'm disappointed in a lot of things: not being able to go on vacation and travel and spend time with my friends and family, and this is just one of those things," Linebarger said. "The best thing about kids is with their mental capacity, I mean they're happy any way that you can provide that sort of positive attitude and activities for them. I think kids kind of have it easy in some ways—it's the parents that are struggling."
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If you are a committed, grunge-wearing resident of the Pacific Northwest, it is easy–almost automatic–to look at Texas as an extraordinarily dry, hot and culturally oppressive place that is better to avoid, especially in the summer. Our two granddaughters live with their parents in Portland.
Recently we decided to take the older girl, who is 15, to Dallas. Setting aside the summer heat, a Portlander can adjust to the vibes of Austin without effort. So let’s take Texas with all of its excesses straight up. Dallas, here we come.
Our 15-year-old granddaughter and her sister, 12, have spent summer weeks with us, usually separately so that we could better get to know each individually. In visits focused on Austin and Port Aransas, the girls seemed to be developing an affection for Texas.
Houston and Dallas are two great American cities, the 4th and 9th largest, each loaded with cultural treasures, each standing in glittering and starchy contrast to Austin’s more louche, T-shirts and shorts ways.
Three hours up I-35, Dallas loomed before us as a set of gray skyscrapers in a filmy haze, accessed only through a concrete mixmaster of freeways, ramps and exits. I drove with false confidence. Be calm, I said to myself, it will all end in 10 minutes under the hotel entrance canopy. And it did.
The pool at the Crescent Court Hotel in Dallas. (Crescent Court Hotel)
We stayed three nights at the Crescent Court Hotel ($622 a night for two queens), a high-end hotel in Uptown, patronized by women in white blazers, business people in suits, and tall, lean professional athletes, their shiny Escalades and Corvettes darting in and out, and other celebrities like Bill Barr, the former attorney general who shoe-horned his ample self into a Toyota.
Each morning as I walked to Whole Foods for a cappuccino, a fellow identified by a bellman as Billy the Oilman arrived in his Rolls Royce Phantom. Where does he park? “Wherever he wants to. He likes the Starbucks here.”
We garaged our more modest set of wheels for the visit. We were chauffeured for tips by Matt Cooney and Alfonza “The Rev” Scott in the hotel’s black Audi sedan. They drove us to museums, restaurants and past the enclaves of the rich and famous. In Highland Park, The Rev pointed out the homes of the Dallas Cowboys' Jerry Jones and Troy Aikman along with the family compound of the Hunts, oil and gas tycoons.
The Dallas Museum of Art’s “Cartier and Islam” exhibit (until Sept. 18) attracted an older crowd; the nearby Perot Museum of Nature and Science was a powerful whirlpool of kids’ groups ricocheting from the Tyrannosaurus Rex to the oil fracking exhibit. Watch your shins.
A Geogia O'Keeffe oil painting called "Ranchos Church, New Mexico" at the Amon Carter Museum of Modern Art. (Rich Oppel)
For us, the best museum was the Amon Carter Museum of Modern Art in Fort Worth, a 50-minute, madcap drive away via a 75 mph toll lane along I-30. Don’t try it during rush hour. The Carter has an exquisite collection of Remington paintings and sculptures and an excellent array of 19th and 20th-century paintings as well. Pick one museum? The Amon Carter. Peaceful, beautiful, uncrowded, free admission and small enough to manage in two hours.
The Fort Worth Stockyards, a place of history (with a dab of schmaltz), fun and good shopping, filled one of our mornings. The 98 acres brand the city as Cowboy Town, with a rodeo and a twice-daily (11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.) cattle drive. We shopped for boots, drank coffee and watched the “herd” of 18 longhorns. So languid was their progress that if this were a real market drive the beef would have been very tough and leathery before it hit the steakhouse dinner plate.
The cattle drive at the Fort Worth Stockyards. (Rich Oppel)
But we could identify: the temperature was 97. “I saw a dog chasing a cat today,” said the emcee, deploying a very old joke. “It was so hot that both were walking.”
With limited time, we chose three very different restaurants:
- Nobu, in the Crescent Court Hotel; Jia, a modern Chinese restaurant in Highland Park; and Joe T. Garcia’s in Fort Worth. Nobu’s exotic Japanese menu set us back $480, with tip, for four (we had a guest), but it was worth it.
- Jia was an ordinary suburban strip mall restaurant, but with good food and a reasonable tab of $110 for four.
- Joe T.’s is an 85-year-old Fort Worth institution (think Matt’s El Rancho but larger), a fine Mexican restaurant where a meal with two drinks was $115.
Sushi at high-end restaurant Nobu. (Crescent Hotel)
It was all a splurge for a grandchild’s visit. Now we will get back to our ordinary road trips of Hampton Inns, where a room rate is closer to the Crescent Court’s overnight parking rate of $52. And to corner cafes in small towns.
Did Dallas change our 15-year-old’s view of Texas? “Yes. I think it’s a lot cooler than I did. The fashion, the food.” So, not only Austin is cool. Take Texas as a whole. It’s a big, complex, diverse and wonderful state.
Giga Texas, the massive Tesla factory in southeast Travis County is getting even bigger.
The company filed with the city of Austin this week to expand its headquarters with a new 500,000-square-foot building. The permit application notes “GA 2 and 3 expansion,” which indicates the company will make two general assembly lines in the building.
More details about the plans for the building are unclear. The gigafactory has been focused on Model Y production since it opened in April, but the company is also aiming for Cybertruck production to kick off in mid-2023.
While there is room for expansion on the 3.3 square miles of land Tesla has, this move comes after CEO Elon Musk’s recent comments about the state of the economy and its impact on Tesla.
In a May interview with Tesla Owners Silicon Valley, Musk said the gigafactories in Berlin and Austin are “gigantic money furnaces” and said Giga Texas had manufactured only a small number of cars.
And in June, Musk sent a company wide email saying Tesla will be reducing salaried headcount by 10%, then later tweeted salaried headcount should be fairly flat.
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