By David Garcia
This Halloween, downtown Provo will be alive with games, magic, a storyteller and a myriad of ghouls, princesses and super heroes.
It”s a safer Halloween alternative for parents and a productive advertising campaign for downtown businesses, but “Safe Halloween Downtown” is just one of many places to trick-or-treat.
From church-sponsored activities and trick-or-treating at businesses, to the traditional door-to-door visits, trick-or-treaters and their parents have lots of options this year.
“Trunk-or-treat” has become a popular event for some LDS wards, though the original idea of going from car trunk to car trunk has often been replaced by indoor activities.
“It”s really good because the kids … can see all their friends,” said Callie McKay, a mother of four trick-or-treat-aged children. “They get to see a lot more people, but they don”t get tired from going door to door.”
Organized activities are often touted as a safe alternative to walking from house to house, but McKay said the most important factor is parental involvement.
“I think when the parents are involved, it”s safe,” McKay said. “If you”re not comfortable with a situation, then it”s important to teach your kids about that.”
“Safe Halloween Downtown” was started partially in response to the concern about kids going to homes they didn”t know, said Susan Bradford, executive director of the Provo Downtown Alliance. “You can bring your kids and feel good about where they”re going and get to know the businesses in downtown Provo.”
Business owner Ted Schofield has been involved in the Provo festivities since they began four years ago. He plans to dress as a pirate and perform magic tricks in front of his store, Heindselman”s Yarn, Needlework and Gift. The activities will take place from 3 to 6 p.m.
“I have a ball with this,” Schofield said. “I think it”s fun for the kids. It”s fun for me, too.”
The event is a great advertising opportunity, said business owner Kassi Johnson. Her business, The Downtown Salon, puts coupons on the candy they hand out, and has seen new business as a result.
Several stores in the Provo Town Centre will also be giving out candy, but not everyone thinks the idea is good for business.
“It starts too early and it doesn”t do anything good for my store,” said Dale Peterson, manager of Angel”s II Hallmark, in the Provo Town Centre. “It”s not just one piece from every store. … Parents just let them go and go and go.”
While he loves Halloween and appreciates the safe environment, parents start coming as early as 10 a.m. and he often sees the same people multiple times, Peterson said. Despite his misgivings and concern for the store”s breakable products, the store will be involved.
“The mall doesn”t officially sponsor it, but it”s the trick-or-treaters that make you pressured into it,” Peterson said. “We can”t shut the gate like we do at our house and turn out the porch light.”
For those who do want to take the traditional door-to-door approach, the Utah Safety Council encourages parents to accompany young children and check their candy; homeowners to keep an outside light on to welcome trick-or-treaters; and motorists to slow down and watch out for children darting into the street.
Now that David Smith”s kids are getting older, they take time both to trick-or-treat and to hand out candy. They learned to love Halloween from their dad, Smith, 41, from Orem, who learned to love Halloween from his dad.
“Halloween”s our favorite holiday at our house,” Smith said. “It has become a tradition that we all look forward to, because we all love candy.”
“Halloween Safety Tips”
Bring a flashlight.
Walk; don”t run.
Don”t let young children trick-or-treat alone.
Inspect candy for tampering.
Provide dinner before trick-or-treating.
Keep pets inside; they may bite if frightened.
Use flashlights instead of candles in jack-o-lanterns
Slow down, especially in residential areas
Watch carefully when backing out of driveways
Have children get out of the car on the curbside, away from traffic
Source: Utah Safety Council