The Halloween Coloring Contest has become a fall tradition here at the Tribune, a time when entries are dropped off at the office or come by mail, followed by the judging and then taking the winners’ photos and awarding prizes.

Our office doesn’t get many young visitors, and with COVID restrictions, I don’t get into the schools, so the short visits with these kids were especially fun. Maybe I just miss seeing people in person these days, too.

This year, we asked the young ones to wear masks, just to be safe, and we took the photos outside as another precautionary method. Years from now, future generations may look at this page of coloring contest winners with their creations and see the impact the novel coronavirus has had on us all.

Judging the contest is always fun and, although I’m no artist, the winning entries usually stand out. You can see in the winners that the kids went the extra mile, coloring not only the objects in the design but the background, as well.

One winner’s mother told me that in past years, her child had studied the previous year’s picks published in the paper and figured this out. It worked for her.

Not only did she and some of the other winners color in the backgrounds, they added their own creative touches. One featured tiny bones she had drawn; another included banners reading “Happy Halloween.”

The Halloween tradition still looked a little different this year, and the ones to come will, too, during this pandemic. More than likely, my husband and I won’t visit family, and we won’t get together with friends for a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. I envision us dropping Christmas gifts at loved ones’ homes or sending them through the mail.

Now, more than ever, creativity plays a role in coping while keeping the virus at bay. Maybe we’ll exchange pictures of our Thanksgiving spreads or record videos to share. Definitely, this is a year of finding new ways to go about our daily lives and celebrate milestones like birthdays, anniversaries and holidays.

One fact stands out more than ever: When we let our guard down and gather in large groups, the virus grows. Wisconsin is now among the top states for COVID cases. Now, with winter ahead, we’ll have to find new ways to celebrate if we want to stay healthy and protect others, as well.

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