Oak Park shifts trick-or-treating hours

Citing potential racial biases, the board votes to change hours to 4-8 p.m.

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By Stacey Sheridan

Staff Reporter

For decades, Oak Park allowed trick-or-treating during the hours of 3-7 p.m. on Halloween. This year, however, kids can continue their candy collecting in Oak Park past that, as the board moved to push back trick-or-treating hours to 4-8 p.m. at its Oct. 7 meeting. 

Trustee Arti Walker-Peddakotla made a large push to set the hours back. "This is a really good example of two things," she said. "One: why racial equity training is really important because if we had used a checklist to evaluate this ordinance, we would have realized that this is overreach." The board also voted affirmatively to change the ordinance into a resolution.  

Walker-Peddakotla went on to say that the standard 3-7 p.m. trick-or-treating timeframe negatively affects children with working parents or single parents. Those parents, she said, may not be back in time from work. 

A main concern in keeping the tradition of a 3-7 p.m. timeframe, some felt, was the potential for police to unfairly target children of color out trick-or-treating after 7 p.m. for violating the ordinance. The police department could not be reached to find out if any ordinance violations had been given in past years to trick-or-treaters, of color or otherwise, collecting candy after 7 p.m.  

In public comment, Susanne Fairfax, told the board she agreed with Walker-Peddakotla's concerns. "This is a very, very good example of the difference using a racial equity lens when creating laws and codes for this village and not doing, how something can gently become a real problem." Fairfax called Halloween in Oak Park "beautiful" because it is one of the times when Oak Parkers connect with people from other communities who come to Oak Park to trick or treat. She cautioned the board against marring it by constricting trick-or-treating hours. 

Anthony Clark, community activist and Oak Park and River Forest High School teacher, addressed the board after Fairfax, saying, "I just wanted to share a quick truth, being a black male." He went on to tell the board that after being shot in 2007 while serving in the military, he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. 

"In the process of attending therapy sessions, I realized that I have PTSD from being a child, from interaction with police officers in this community, when I was choked out in Scoville Park at the age of 12," he said. Clark's family moved to Oak Park when he was five years old. 

"I honestly can't even think straight. I'm a little irritated, I'll be honest with you," Clark said to the board. "You all are wonderful individuals, but to have people with privilege speak for me and my experiences is unacceptable."

The board, Clark said, was missing the "systemic issue" and that even as an educated black man, he still fears interacting with Oak Park police officers.

"If we're truly a progressive community, we should be limiting police interaction," Clark said. "I don't give a damn if you have three good cops; the system is the problem." He also said that he sees symptoms of PTSD in his students caused by police interaction. 

"If I ever have a child, I'll be damned if police have a way or say in how he is raised," Clark said before stepping back from the podium. The audience clapped for Clark, as he exited the meeting. 

In the final public comment regarding Halloween, Oak Park father Will Sims told the board he agreed with Clark. "I have an 11-year-old son and we trick or treat past 7 o'clock," he said. "He is getting taller, he's going to be recognized as a young black male, which is to be a target for police, whether it's trick-or-treating or whatever."

According to Sims, ending Halloween festivities at 7 p.m. is too early and it targets people who work, calling it unfair. "It also targets people from Austin, from Maywood, neighboring communities that don't have great trick-or-treating," said Sims. Children from those neighborhoods often trick or treat in Oak Park. Imposing a time limit would negatively affect those children and make Oak Park look less welcoming to outsiders of color, he added. 

Sims doesn't think there should be a rule at all dictating when kids can or cannot trick or treat. "Why put a law on Halloween? It doesn't make sense," he said. "It's Halloween! We're supposed to be out there having fun, saying, 'Boo!' and collecting candy." Sims was also met with applause from the audience. 

Trustee Deno Andrews agreed 7 p.m. was too early, suggesting that the board get rid of designated Halloween hours or move them to either 3-8 p.m. or 4-8 p.m. Trustee Dan Moroney preferred 4-8 p.m., while Walker-Peddakotla wanted to abolish the timeframe completely. 

"I just don't think that we should have any hours and if we do have hours, they should be extended to 9 p.m. at the latest," she said. 

Trustee Jim Taglia supported 4-8 p.m., citing public safety concerns. "People do drink on that evening, they are out driving, and kids are hard to see at night," he said. 

In a unanimous vote, the board decided to change Halloween hours from 3-7 p.m. to 4-8 p.m.

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Reader Comments

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Christine Vernon  

Posted: October 31st, 2019 6:32 PM

After coming in early from being freezing cold, standing on the porch for hours where only the hearty came out, but it was a pretty good representation of Trick-or-Treaters, I can only think of one thing ~ "Man plans, and the Weather gods laugh." For all the passionate deliberation, the weather gods determined Trick-or-Treating this year, October 31, 2019, when they sent us a blanket of snow on Halloween!

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: October 22nd, 2019 10:03 AM

@ Tommy "Big" Mac: How could the incident not be documented. If the 12 year old was choked, did the 12 year old tell his parents? If no, why not. if yes what did the parents do? If the 12 year old was taken to a doctor wouldn't the doctor step forward to report, and what is contained in the medical report? Was the incident investigated by the OP police dept, Ill. state police, NAACP, ACLU, Jesse Jackson or any other agency ? As best I can tell there was no Federal inquiry or law suit lHow were the marks on the 12 year old explained and accepted? I lived in Oak Park for many police scandals, yet this one escapes me. I am not saying this incident did not occur, I am saying I would like to flesh the facts of the incident.

Christine Vernon  

Posted: October 21st, 2019 7:34 PM

...correction below, I wish the trick-or-treating hours ended this year again at 7pm not 8pm.

Christine Vernon  

Posted: October 21st, 2019 7:32 PM

It doesn't matter to me what neighborhood the children are from, or who the children are, my friends and I, sitting on the porch, welcome these little kids as they delight in what we delighted in about Halloween when we were young. That's the point. To be part of providing a happy childhood experience in some small way. I just wish the hours established ended at 8pm. Some kids come before the official hours start and ring bells on their way home from school. That's not a big deal. But kids do ring the bell or knock on the door even when the lights are out. I know, we've done this drill before. The point about the Village, by way of the Park District, providing something for the extended length of time, from 7 - 8pm would be an easy solution and a big contribution to kids celebrating the festive day. If the Board wants the hours to go that late, then pitch in to provide some help. This day is not a big deal for some of my friends who get maybe 25 trick-or-treaters, but we don't know people anywhere else who get 500 plus kids. It's a long evening and you cannot leave the door unattended because they do not stop coming. Fun, but pretty intense and long. If the weather is good, there will be a crowd up and down the street and that is fun to see, too.

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: October 21st, 2019 3:41 PM

Carol Ann, I hope you never have to deal with PTSD. It is not a pleasant problem to have and it takes a lot of effort to keep moving forward, although it is possible. As for children and candy, there is no racial line drawn to what children are allowed to have candy. It is just a matter of changing the time a little and do like other people know what to do and that is you just keep the porch light off. It seems that today's adults are having a difficult time navigating through what has been a common practice. Maybe you can search for it online if no one has every taught you

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: October 21st, 2019 3:37 PM

Brian Slowiak just to be fair with what another person said what happened, would you say that every incident gets documented as it happened 40 year's ago and maybe the choke hold was still legal at that time. I know this is a one sided story and it helps build comments so I do understand why you would want to find the original incident although if it did happen, I do not think you will find it so there may be some thing else you would like to disprove and I am not saying I disagree with you

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: October 21st, 2019 9:26 AM

Anthony Clark stats that when he was 12 years old he was "choked out" by an Oak Park Police in Scoville Pak. If he is 40 years old, that means the incident happened in 1992. I have been checking around and no such incident can be located. Possibly I haven't found the incident yet. I need Clarks date of birth and assistance in an archives check on the incident.

Carol Ann  

Posted: October 19th, 2019 6:21 PM

And furthermore, Mr. Clark, how on earth did you ever get hired as an Oak Park teacher with your PTSD symptoms? I would think with all of the harassment that you received, you would have wanted out of Oak Park. Talk about racial agitator!!

Carol Ann  

Posted: October 19th, 2019 6:15 PM

Really? Now even Halloween needs to be a racial issue? Get a grip people. 8:00 is too late. I don't understand why people have to trick or treat that late. So we Oak Park residents can supply candy to other neighborhood children? If the parents can't make it home in time to trick or treat, perhaps they can host a party at their own homes for their children. Count me out.

Christine Vernon  

Posted: October 15th, 2019 4:35 PM

Yes, this story seemed like an Onion Column. The Village Board had a strange meeting with Dr. Buchanan and then the Halloween discussion. A full moon? Sundowning? A few decided the fate of Trick or Treating. Disturbing, maybe not to you who have never been on duty at the door on Halloween. But today, after having done door duty for Trick or Treaters for 47 years, there are over 500 Trick or Treaters. We give two items, one is gluten free, chocolate free, and nut free for those who need it. The cost is not negligible to fund this operation. Vans unload on street next to our house; kids pour out into our neighborhood, kids of different races and ethnicities. So, 4 or 5 of my friends and I, senior citizens, sit on the porch drinking hot cider, oooing and ahhhing at the costumes, especially the little children. The ladies and I all have on some hat or other. The women, one French, one Mexican, one Japanese American, and I, a mutt, together can cover speaking three languages, and every year there is the opportunity for my friends to speak in their native language. We love that. The other women live where they get very few or no Trick or Treaters. They love coming here to participate. Sometimes it's cold, or rainy, and sometimes it's perfect. But, for us, four hours is a long time enough time to be on duty. This is done out of goodwill, not solely to meet the needs of Trick or Treaters. Stamina is a consideration.This is not a legal requirement like paying taxes, This is volunteer. . Don't overreach and legislate this. And, as one commenter said, don't make it a racial issue. 3pm-7pm is enough. For more fun, talk to the Park District about opening up Field Houses for a chaperoned event from 7-8pm. Having kids walk around after dark is not in their best interest or the interest of people who want to retreat for the night and, usually, kids have school the next day. There is a common sense factor in this that should think about the considerations of both sides.

Garett Auriemma  

Posted: October 10th, 2019 4:00 PM

Why all the drama? When you're done handing out candy, turn off your porch light and decorations. That's pretty the universal symbol for 'next house, please."

Steve Miller  

Posted: October 10th, 2019 2:45 PM

Good grief, neighbors.

Robert Zeh  

Posted: October 9th, 2019 9:41 PM

This is peak Oak Park. The board is worrying about the police giving out Halloween citations without knowing if they've ever done so.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: October 9th, 2019 5:54 PM

Did citations really get issued for people trick or treating too late? That sounds nuts. It can be a little annoying to have people come later but it's one day per year. I don't think we need to be issuing tickets. I also don't even know how that's legal. Is it illegal to ring someone's doorbell? The late people are usually from Chicago and they don't even know the rules as they don't live here. The whole thing seems like a giant waste of time.

Kline Maureen  

Posted: October 9th, 2019 10:07 AM

Let's just hope the weather is decent. Personally, I would have preferred a shorter (3 hour) time frame but I'm glad the official "time" has been extended beyond 7 PM which is very early for many working parents. And while I understand the idea that you can just "turn off your light and not answer your door" - - I generally enjoy seeing all the kids and passing out the candy - though much more so if it's not cold and rainy... And as much fun as it may be, I'm glad when it's over. Whether you're out with your kids or home handing out candy, it gets exhausting after a while and so I think an "official" suggested ending time is good for everyone.

Ken Van Spankerswanson  

Posted: October 9th, 2019 8:48 AM

As a home owner, we start handing candy out around 4:00-4:30. We stop when we run out of candy, period. And that is always before 7:00 pm. Turn off the lights, unplug the door bell and go to the kitchen to have dinner with family, sometime friends, and get home work done etc. Oh and does the village board share their new rules with the residents of the surrounding communities? No they don't. Do they post hours on streets, no they don't. If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there does it make a sound? scream at the TV, much? thanks for spending time discussing something that matters so little.

Mikhail Ivanov  

Posted: October 9th, 2019 7:20 AM

P.S. -- Bravo to Trustee Arti for reducing the level of discourse of the Board to that of a Homeowners Association (HOA). Important issues like unfunded pensions, crumbling infrastructure, high taxes, falling home values, and declining population need to be addressed, but she consistently makes sure that these things are seldom discussed. She is the "Queen of Halloween"...and an imposter in every sense of the word.

Mikhail Ivanov  

Posted: October 9th, 2019 7:16 AM

Guess what? You can open your doors for trick-or-treating whenever you want. I'll be doing 3-7pm and will let me friends and neighbors know. At 7pm, I'll be having a fun dinner with friends and won't answer the door any longer. Don't worry, lots of families fro Austin and other communities have come by every other year starting at 5:30 or so. We should remember that the Village Board is an (unfortunately) useless body that serves no real purpose. People and neighbors run this community, not those lunatics.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: October 9th, 2019 7:05 AM

Danny Davis just has to be so worried.

Kevin Peppard from Oak Park  

Posted: October 9th, 2019 1:28 AM

@Bill Dwyer:Your turning Anthony Clark's language back on him reminds of a message an admiral sent to Admiral Nimitz in the first,,uneventful days of the battle for Okinawa.: "I may be crazy, but I think the Japanese have given up.on the war". Nimitz replied, "Forget everything after, "I may be crazy.""

Jim McDonald from Forest Park  

Posted: October 9th, 2019 1:18 AM

Really? I actually thought this was a The Onion column .

Kelly Bacon Desmarais  

Posted: October 8th, 2019 9:35 PM

Arti Walker-Peddakotla is nothing but a toxic racial agitator who is bad for our community.

Ted Schuster  

Posted: October 8th, 2019 9:13 PM

Perhaps we're overthinking this a bit, everyone.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: October 8th, 2019 6:17 PM

I find it amazing and rather troubling that, in a 900 word article supposedly about the VOP board changing the hours for trick or treating, nearly 30 percent of the article deals with wannabe Congressman Anthony Clark's personal problems and his chronic distrust of police and other authorities. Though it was a bit heartening to read that Clark was able to state at least one fact, i.e., "I honestly can't even think straight." True dat, Anthony.

Klara Gabor  

Posted: October 8th, 2019 5:43 PM

Why does this and everything else become a racial issue ? Why not make the hours until midnight for parents who may not get home until 7 or 8 p.m. ? People coming home from work also want to sit down in peace and quiet and have dinner and whatever their routine is. Do these trustees stay up at night thinking of nonsense they can address since they obviously aren't addressing the real problems in Oak Park. We hear of people leaving Chicago, well they are leaving Oak Park too . The swooshing sound you hear is the village going down the toilet.

Deborah Risteen Mercer  

Posted: October 8th, 2019 5:31 PM

Four hours is too long. How about 6-8?

Jeff Schroeder from Oak Park  

Posted: October 8th, 2019 5:15 PM

It has generally been our experience that trick or treating doesn't end until around 8:00 PM anyway. The only issue I have is that it delays our family being able to sit down for dinner. That and the fact that our dog feels he has to bark loudly every time the doorbell rings. But we will happily comply with the new time if it makes us better people.

Ramona Lopez  

Posted: October 8th, 2019 4:59 PM

Can't the data be had to figure out how many tickets were written for the halloween "infraction" by a simply FOIA request? I find it very convenient that Arti who complains about kids of color being targeted once again has ZERO data to back up her "concern". This is a typical strategy of activists. Throw data and facts out the window, only feelings count.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: October 8th, 2019 4:28 PM

Ah,..... don't answer the door after seven o'clock.

PJ Atlas  

Posted: October 8th, 2019 3:17 PM

Halloween should be opt in only with indicative signage, recyclable of course. I would like to move but my house value is in the toilet and so I'm stuck and am tired of passing out candy. Even with the lights out kids still ring the bell. Lastly, if anyone plays a trick on my house my Ring doorbell is watching...

Nick Polido  

Posted: October 8th, 2019 2:47 PM

Why is Anthony Clark our self promoting activistBiennial Congressional candidate and OPRF teacher still employed at this High School??

Steve Brown  

Posted: October 8th, 2019 2:30 PM

I'm glad to see there were some voices of reason as I was unable to attend this meeting. First off, we don't NEED a law telling people when to trick or treat. Do our local elected officials really have nothing else to do? If so, just adjourn the meeting. You don't have to manufacture problems to solve by passing unnecessary laws. Second, such an ordinance would almost certainly violate the first amendment. You can't regulate "trick or treating" as that is speech. I doubt you can pass a law governing to people's right to ring someone's doorbell at all, regardless of reason. Third of all, this proposed ordinance would have been largely unenforceable and would serve only as a pretense for legalized police harassment. And finally, when I was a kid, we trick or treated after dark. It was more fun that way. This is exactly the kind of regulatory overreach that people detest. Let us live our lives and parent our children as we see fit to do.

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