An announcement from the City of Shenandoah indicates that as of Sept. 16, the National Night Out event has been cancelled.
"This event is falling victim to COVID-19 as many of the agencies have limited participation of their responders at non-emergency events," the announcement said.
Shenandoah City Council has outlined plans for public city events for the remainder of the year, including National Night Out, Halloween Safe Streets and Lighting the Angels, during a Sept. 9 meeting.
Council members spoke about the difficulties of maintaining events, such as National Night Out, which was originally scheduled for Oct. 5, particularly due to Gov. Gregg Abbott's order restricting events to 100 people unless social distancing and mask use are enforced.
Shenandoah Chief of Police Troye Dunlap noted that the larger a gathering is, the greater risk of exposure there is for officers and the public. Other agencies that normally take part, such as The Woodlands Fire Department, are also unable to attend the event this year.
"Maybe we do something a bit more limited, like just our [police department] and our residents," Shenandoah Mayor Ritch Wheeler said. "Could we do a patrol parade or something—something where we don't have to scrap it, but we can still be smart about it?"
Ultimately, council left the decision to hold or not hold National Night Out to Dunlap's discretion.
For Halloween Safe Streets, scheduled for Oct. 31, council discussed the possibility of limiting police involvement while maintaining the event.
"The distribution of candy is not that big of a deal," Dunlap said. "The main problem is just all officers being there, the amount of congestion with the amount of people we have and being exposed."
Council Member Mike McCleod asked Dunlap to keep an eye on surrounding cities and municipalities to see who has canceled their Halloween events.
"If we're the only game in town, we're going to get more people than we usually do," McCleod said. "It's just handling the bodies."
Council members agreed to hold Halloween Safe Streets, albeit with some modifications to spread the event out in order to reduce general congestion.
At this time, council is still fully in favor of having its Lighting of the Angels event Dec. 1. Wheeler said he hopes the worries surrounding coronavirus will be down at that time.