River Forest parents and their children waiting for the village board to make a decision on allowing trick-or-treating on Halloween will have to wait a little longer.

For the second time in as many village board meetings, officials failed to reach consensus on trick-or-treating on Sept. 29 despite extensive discussion and will try again Oct. 12.

Nine-year-old Jonathan Zeh urged the village board to not cancel trick-or-treating.

“Halloween is not Halloween without trick-or-treating,” he said.

His mother, Mary Anne, asked that her son be allowed to speak after she addressed the village board on a parking issue during the citizen comment portion of the meeting.

As was the case when the issue was first discussed on Sept. 14, Village Administrator Eric Palm said staff members had been hoping to receive guidance from state officials but “So far the governor has not said boo.”

That direction finally came a day after the village board meeting, on Sept. 30, when the Illinois Department of Public Health issued guidelines that encourage social distancing while trick-or-treating.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said households should consider leaving individually wrapped candy on a table in driveways or in front of walkways to allow for social distancing.

According to the guidelines, those passing out candy should maintain six feet from trick-or-treaters and wear proper face coverings and trick-or-treating should be done in groups with household members only.

Several trustees expressed concerns regarding enforcement since some will treat-or-treat anyway even if the village does not allow it. Similarly, several trustees supported issuing guidelines.

“This is a terrible choice we’re forced to make,” Trustee Tom Cargie said.

Palm said staff members have been monitoring neighboring municipalities, noting that some, including Elmwood Park, are allowing trick-or-treating but others are not endorsing or discouraging the practice. Most, he added, are sharing guidelines.

“It all comes down to enforcement,” he said. 

Trustee Katie Brennan said she is against allowing trick-or-treating while trustees Erika Bachner and Patty Henek expressed concerns about allowing the practice.

“This is a health and safety issue,” Bachner said, adding that she is “really concerned” about children going door-to-door.

Henek cited Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines that list trick-or-treating as a high-risk activity.

Trustee Bob O’Connell and Village President Cathy Adduci noted the role parents play.

“It really goes to the parents as to what a kid is going to do,” O’Connell said.

“We’ll keep working at this until we reach consensus,” Adduci said.

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