FLORIDA KEYS — Despite the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, a recent study found that 58% of Americans are planning to celebrate Halloween on Saturday.

According to the National Retail Federation, Americans are expected to spend about $8 billion on candy, costumes, decorations and cards. This includes a half-billion dollars on costumes for family pets, which is an increasing popular trend.

Florida Keys residents will be among those participating in several virtual and in-person Halloween events this week.

At 3 p.m. Saturday, Cactus Jack’s and Senior Frijoles will host a Trunk-or-Treat event in front of the Sundowners triplex. The Key Largo School parent-teacher association is participating in the event and will receive 10% of all the restaurants’ food and drink sales, according to general manager Vessy Popova.

“A lot of the staff here is participating and some of the boat charters will be participating,” she said. “We want to make this fun for the kids while we try to socially distance. We’re going to have a taco stand. There is going to be a tent with games and candy.”

At 5 p.m., a Halloween costume parade is planned. Cotton candy will be given to participants.

Those interested in the Trunk-or-Treat event must register as space is limited to adhere to CDC guidelines.

At 10 p.m., CJ’s is hosting adult karaoke with spoof awards. Drink specials will be offered and a raffle event is being planned, according to Popova.

The Islamorada-Helen Wadley Branch Library is hosting a virtual Halloween costume contest for children. Multiple entries of costumed kids may be submitted until Oct. 28. The contestant with the most likes on Facebook wins a crammed gift bag, while contestants who enter will receive lots of candy, according to library assistant Charlotte Caria.

“We know this is a crazy time, so we want everyone to relax and have fun with this. We’re so happy that the contest has been such a big hit,” she said. “It’s gotten literally hundreds of votes for the two most popular contestants.”

As of last Friday, the competition had “The Rock” slightly edging out “Lobster Pot.”

A “curbside pickup” for prizes must be arranged through Caria.

To enter, send the child’s name, age, photos, a brief costume description and permission to publish to Caria at caria-charlotte@monroecounty-fl.gov.

The village of Islamorada is also hosting a virtual costume contest, Spooktober Snapshot Halloween Photo Contest!

Contestants must reside in the Upper Keys and submit one photo per category until 5 p.m. Nov. 2. The categories include Howl-o-ween Pets! Pumpkin Patch, Your Best Pumpkin Carving and Best Costume.

Email photos to justin.haggerty@islamorada.fl.us with the subject “Halloween 2020 Photo Contest.” Be sure to include a description, name and contact information.

Visit the “Islamorada, Village of Islands” Facebook page to find the Halloween 2020 Photo Contest photo album and vote for your favorite by “liking” the photo.

Winners will be announced at 3 p.m., Nov. 6, through email. First, second- and third-place winners will each receive a Publix gift card.

For more information, contact Justin Haggerty at 305-853-1685.

From 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday, the Zonta Club of Marathon is sponsoring a Halloween “Drive Thru” at Marathon’s Community Park.

Marathon Parks and Recreation Department is taking reservations for Halloween bags for children for pick up between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. Friday at 200 36th Street. To reserve, call 305-743-6598 or email villatorog@ci.marathon.fl.us.

A virtual Halloween costume contest is also being held. Entrants must submit a photo by 10 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29, to wardj@ci.marathon.fl.us. A winner will be announced on Facebook Friday.

Marathon City Hall is hosting its 12th annual staff costume contest to benefit Forgotten Felines, a nonprofit organization that traps, spays/neuters and releases homeless and abandoned cats. Vote for a favorite costume on Friday, Oct. 30.

SAFETY FIRST

The local health department recommends not participating in in-person Halloween festivities or handing out candy if you may have COVID-19 or may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.

The department also recommends that families bring hand sanitizer with them and use it after touching objects or other people. Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before eating Halloween candy.

A costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask, health officials say, so make a cloth mask part of the costume. Masks, however, should not be worn by children under the age of 2. Also, stay at least 6 feet away from others who do not live with you.

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