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Stew Leonard's In One Long Island Town Trying Halloween Drive-Thru Display To Keep People Safe

EAST MEADOW, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Halloween is looking a little different this year. With social distancing, parents and local leaders are trying to figure out safe and spooky ways to celebrate.

CBS2's Natalie Duddridge was at Stew Leonard's in East Meadow on Wednesday, checking out what it has in store for the holiday.

The parking lot has been transformed, so that you can drive through basically a haunted house on wheels.

Many parents are struggling with every decision about what is safe for their kids to do during the coronavirus pandemic and Halloween brings the dilemma to a head.

"You have to plan in advance and you have to talk to your children very concretely about what the rules are," child and parent psychologist Dr. Susan Bartell said. "You need to have some clear, good plans as an alternative to trick-or-treating."


So, instead of trick-or-treating door to door this year on foot, some can choose to hop in the car and roll to a drive-thru or drive-in for a more socially distanced experience.

"So this is a free drive-thru here. It's designed for young kids. It's not that scary, but I had one customer come up to me and say, 'I'm going crazy. My kid wanted to go through this thing. I've been through it five times,'" owner Stew Leonard said.

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Stew Leonards is one of many attractions getting creative this year to help control crowds. Cars will follow a path through a dozen family friendly Halloween-themed scenes in the parking lot.

"Another thing you can think about doing with your kids is a scavenger hunt, sort of like an Easter egg hunt. Hide things around the house, around your property, around the neighborhood, and have them find it. That's always a fun thing to do. That's something the CDC is actually recommending that you can do in lieu of trick-or-treating," Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said.

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Many parents and kids spooked by the pandemic have been agonizing over whether to allow kids to safely take part in traditional Halloween events this year. Officials say there are still safe ways for your little ghost or goblin to celebrate.

"As an infectious disease doctor, not eager to have so many people at my door and ringing my bell. So what we plan to do in my family is pre-package -- and I have teenagers who are very excited about this -- pre-package little bags of candy, maybe put out a table. That way nobody is reaching into a common basket or bucket," Nassau Health Commissioner Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein said.

It may look and feel different, but thankfully the holiday isn't cancelled altogether. After all, what's Halloween without an unexpected surprise.

Stew Leonard's drive-thru Halloween experience will be open every day from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. Leonard said he has sold more pumpkins and candy this year than in previous years, so people are definitely getting in the spirit of the holiday.

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