Halloween 2020: A blue moon over an empty Kent

A group of students wait in line at Barflyy on Oct. 31, 2020. The bouncers were charged with making sure the line maintained social distancing.

Nathan Mehring, reporter Kaitlyn Finchler, photo editor Morgan McGrath, features writer

Halloween in Kent has always been a spooky, widely-celebrated tradition. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Halloween looked a little different this year.

In recent years, it’s estimated that over 20,000 people who were not Kent residents traveled to Kent for Halloween. This year, the Kent city mayor issued a statement asking non-Kent residents to not visit the city to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

A bartender from Dominick’s named Ed described the night as “tame.”

Aubrey Heald and Benji Wurster, dressed as Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy, stood outside of Zephyr Pub in downtown Kent on Halloween night. 

“Even if you drive around a lot of the neighborhoods, there’s not a lot of people out,” Heald said. “I was genuinely concerned if people were going to be out tonight. It is, obviously, a college town, but still, you never know.” Heald and Wurster both work in the medical field. 

Inflatable costumes were a huge hit this year, as they kept bar crawlers warm and socially distanced. Some notable ones were a fisherman and his two inflatable shark friends, an inflatable Kool-Aid Man and a group of furries as well.

Senior construction management major Zach Williams came out for Halloween with his friends dressed as a hot dog. One of their friends had a birthday the day before and they wanted to be able to celebrate in their small group. 

“I’m looking for simple social distancing, nothing crazy, basic safety precautions,” Williams said.

Jared Mills, a Kent student, said, “I’ve just not seen anybody that’s elderly or has a precaution to it (COVID-19). … I avoid high risk people. We’ve been kind of nice with not sharing drinks or doing any of that.”

“We’ve been keeping it pretty lowkey, honestly, except for tonight. I haven’t been out since probably July to a bar. This is the first time I’ve been out for a while,” Mills said.

Senior English major Kianna Jackson said that they wanted to experience Halloween while still being safe, so they scoped out downtown earlier in the afternoon before heading out to the bars.

“We wanted to hang out and make sure it was safe first,” Jackson said. “We mostly did it for fun purposes. We did try to make sure everything was going to be okay before everything got crazy.”

In regards to COVID-19 precautions, Jackson and her group of friends, dressed as the Scooby Doo gang, were mostly looking for restaurants and bars to be in control and care about their customers.

“(We would avoid if) there were crowds, if a place was over capacity,” Jackson said. “I know usually Halloween, Kent is known for being very rowdy, so definitely social distancing.”

By midnight, most people had left downtown Kent. There was still activity, with workers cleaning and taking out trash and delivery drivers and police officers making their rounds. There were three furries, Jeff Gishnock, “Yellowcake” and “Samson Fox,” hanging out on a bench outside Fresco, who said they were kept warm by their suits.

“The bar’s closing at 10; it’s definitely very low-key this year,” Gishnock said. “It’s been weird, but nice that it’s still happening, because it’s a bit of a tradition for me. I’ve been coming since my parents brought me when I was three years old. I’m 33 now.”

Despite this, there was an unusual stillness to downtown. It was calm and quiet, especially for a Saturday night and especially for Halloween.

Contact Nathan Mehring at [email protected].

Contact Kaitlyn Finchler at [email protected].

Contact Morgan McGrath at [email protected].


Hi, I’m Lauren Sasala, a senior journalism student from Toledo. I’m also the editor in chief of The Kent Stater and KentWired this semester. My staff and I are committed to bringing you the most important news about Kent State and the Kent community. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate.