Making Halloween hard

Opinion: Editorials

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Many years, Wednesday Journal forgets to publish Oak Park's Halloween trick-or-treating hours at all. Last week, the intense village board discussion of shifting those hours made our front page. 

So to be clear, the designated trick-or-treat hours for this year are 4 to 8 p.m., an hour later than in the past.

Owing to the moment we're in, though, the Halloween debate became a notable discussion, eclipsed only after Trustee Susan Buchanan lost her temper and laid out the white male trustees during a still more intense debate over the village's diversity statement. 

Here's what was good about the discussion over Halloween: With input from citizens and from Trustee Arti Walker-Peddakotla, the board focused on how the traditional 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. hours were hard on working parents, especially single parents, trying to get home from work in time to get their kids out collecting treats. That's a worthy observation. 

Worrying though, and an argument in favor of bringing an equity lens to each issue coming to the board, was that the village staff created a first-time ordinance intended to write trick-or-treating into the village's official legal code so this topic isn't raised every single year.

In making a simple matter fully legal, the proposed ordinance implied that there would now be legal/policing consequences for children and teens trick-or-treating beyond the set hours. That led to concerns that Oak Park cops would be ticketing young people. That was extrapolated into targeting young black people who frequently come into Oak Park from the West Side and other communities because the candy is pretty good here. 

We'd never seen Oak Park police do anything on Halloween other than stepped-up patrols to keep kids safe as evening darkness came on. When we asked the police department if any such citations had been issued on Halloween's past, we were oddly told to file a FOIA request. The answer, five days later, was no, Oak Park police have never ticketed late-arriving trick-or-treaters. Why that wasn't sorted out the evening of the debate is uncertain. 

Ultimately the ordinance was shelved, the traditional resolution was approved unanimously. But in not anticipating that the ordinance language could be read as an opening to harass visiting teens, we created unnecessary palpitations. 

We can do better and we will do better when we consider issues early and with equity in mind.

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Reader Comments

6 Comments - Add Your Comment

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Carol Ann  

Posted: October 19th, 2019 6:05 PM

8:00 is much too late. Then neighborhood kids can very easily be done by 7:00. Why does this board make everything, including Halloween into racial issue? My guess is that many Oak Park residents will opt out this year. Such a shame.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: October 18th, 2019 8:56 PM

You are absolutely correct Christine. The Trustees in full and glorious self righteous windbaggery have indeed ignored some in this community "of a certain age" as you put it. The trustees can take their 8pm BS and shove it where the sun don't shine - since it actually won't in fact be shining anyway. My lights will be out at 7pm.

Christine Vernon  

Posted: October 18th, 2019 5:41 PM

Well, I guess there is no hope for this year for anyone who has an alternative solution or idea to Trick or Treating until 8pm. I would put money on the fact that anyone who thought this was an unnecessary discussion (example, the many comments on your last article "Oak Park shifts Trick or Treating") has not sat in the cold, rain, or even the nice weather for the past 47 years and answered the door for four hours as I and other women of a certain age have done. 8pm is too late for some of us. This is a voluntary activity to host Trick or Treaters and you are about to legislate = take the fun out of it. It isn't about meeting the needs of just any one demographic. So have at it, trick or treat as long as you want but count some of us out. It is too dark even by 7pm for children to be out walking around in the dark, and the night of Halloween is often a school night. Give everyone involved a break. If you think you need more partying and you don't want to have a party at your own home, put your tax dollars to work and ask the Park District to have supervised, chaperoned parties in the Field Houses of the Parks from 7 to 8pm. Sounds like it would be a great public service for some parents and children who need more support. Something well-planned by the Park District could be a lot of fun and children wouldn't be out walking around in the dark. My friends and I will be sitting on the porch again this year, enjoying the kids excitement, and the creative range of costumes. Last year, we ran out of 1,000 candy offerings about ten minutes to 7pm. I felt bad turning out the light but four hours is enough for us. You can get cold to the bone sitting there but we take turns handing out the candy. As one commenter said in the other article, people still knocked and rang the bell after Trick or Treating hours are over. It's not as if you didn't do your part, there is a stamina limit you have and you go to the limit. That's all you can do. Have a Happy Halloween!

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: October 17th, 2019 4:23 PM

The 'equity lens' took a look at Halloween and showed us that hey, no one was ever harassed. But it got everyone agitated and that is what we are seeing now in every meeting, every conversation. It is very unhealthy. We need less of that approach in town, not more. We are getting shouting matches in places where polite discourse used to happen, over nothing. It is almost as if new Trustees came on board and their agenda was to make absolutely everything in town into an argument.

Brian Souders  

Posted: October 16th, 2019 5:43 PM

And does anyone else think it's ridiculous the Journal is calling out the Village Board to "do better" when it admits in the first line that the issue is so inconsequential that it forgets to even mention it many years?

Brian Souders  

Posted: October 16th, 2019 5:41 PM

Aren't we creating "unnecssary palpitations" by attempting to regulate common sense? Folks pass out candy or accompany their kids when they get home from work or after school; they stop when they're out of candy, too tired or have had too much grog. No wonder village board meetings devolve, when so much time is wasted on the inane. #OPAF

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