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Halloween may return to some normalcy for trick-or-treaters

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

OK. Parents, brace yourself for a sugar rush. Halloween 2021 is on. Even Dr. Fauci said get out there, ring those doorbells and enjoy it, especially if you're vaccinated, trick or treating outdoors and gathering in small groups. It's not quite a normal Halloween, but it's close. And NPR's Eric Westervelt stumbled upon a group of pre-K children trunk or treating at a park in Oakland, Calif., and sent us this postcard.

ERIC WESTERVELT, BYLINE: So I was meeting a politician for an interview in East Oakland's Arroyo Viejo Park, you know, unfun, serious stuff - guns, crime, race, police reform - when suddenly a 3-year-old dressed as Baby Yoda emerged from a nearby car. His eyes were bulging wider than, well, Baby Yoda, meeting a giant stuffed dog with a paw print police hat.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Oh, my gosh. It's the "Paw Patrol" car.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: It's "Paw Patrol."

WESTERVELT: Use the force, Baby Yoda. There's candy in those car trunks. The politician can wait. There's something vaguely normal afoot here. The swarm quickly grows, a pre-K princess, a fireman, Minnie Mouse, a dragon, Black Panther and a 4-year-old Spider-Man.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: Oh, Alexander (ph), you made Spider-Man happen.

WESTERVELT: Car trunks pop open and reveal elaborately decorated scenes of ghosts, tombstones and tubs of candy. A pirate reaches for a chocolate treasure. He reaches for a second. Last year's Halloween was canceled, kid. Go for it.

CAROLINE JONES: This is the first, like, kind of back to normal-ish feeling school event that we've had so far.

WESTERVELT: Caroline Jones is the principal of the preschool, the Arroyo Viejo Child Development Center.

JONES: You know, we have all these new protocols that we do now. So, like, the kids come in and they're masked and we're taking temperatures and we're doing all these health screenings. And it's very procedural. And it's very institutional. And then this is something that just feels, like, pre-pandemic. It's really lovely to see it actually happening.

WESTERVELT: Suddenly, a giant friendly looking stuffed T-Rex sticks its nose out of the back of a Honda.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: Dinosaur in there.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Does it come out, Daddy (ph)?

WESTERVELT: Everyone was wearing a mask. The event was short lived. But for these pre-K kids who hadn't really had a Halloween ever, at least one they could remember, this trunk or treating on a sunny afternoon maybe seemed like a little slice of sugary heaven.

Eric Westervelt, NPR News, Oakland.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: We're going to get to see everybody's car. We just have to go together. And we're going to come back. So, Marcos, it's totally OK (ph). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.