Officials urge caution, safety for Halloween trick-or-treaters

Published 5:00 am Friday, October 26, 2007

Halloween night is always a night of fun for revelers, andofficials are urging caution to citizens of Brookhaven and LincolnCounty as they celebrate the evening.

Halloween, which falls on Wednesday night this year, will beofficially observed on the day it falls on unless it is a Sunday,said Jo Lynn Brown of the Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber ofCommerce.

“It falls on a Wednesday and we’ll celebrate it that day,” shesaid. “Perhaps if you had plans to go to church, you couldtrick-or-treat early.”

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Brookhaven Police Chief Pap Henderson said trick-or-treatingearly is a good idea for safety reasons as well.

“We’re always putting the emphasis on safety,” he said. “And theearlier you start the safer it can be because it’s still lightoutside. Safety is so important because you have children walkingin the streets.”

County officials issued the same warning.

“Some people may be going early because of church,” said LincolnCounty Sheriff Steve Rushing. “But no matter what time it is, weurge drivers to keep a close eye on the roads. Watch for thekids.”

Halloween safety literature encourages parents to be sure thatfor every five children in a group, there is one adult. Hendersonsaid he’s noticed a growing pattern of parents taking their kidsout on Halloween night.

“I’ve observed on Halloween more and more that parents aretaking their kids trick-or-treating instead of just sending themout by themselves, and I respect that, and we need to continue thattrend,” he said. “And for parents that can’t go with theirchildren, please make sure there’s someone old enough to accompanythem.”

Both Rushing and Henderson said the area has not had troublewith contaminated candy within recent memory.

“I encourage parents to go to houses they know, just to be onthe safe side as far as the candy goes,” said Rushing. “I’m notsaying anyone around here would do anything to the candy, but it’salways good to be safe.”

Henderson agreed that there doesn’t seem to be foreseeabledanger with the candy, but that parents might still want to checkit just for their own peace of mind.

“I have confidence in the people of Brookhaven not to be thatlowdown and dirty, but I don’t blame if parents want to check thecandy,” he said. “There should be no problem to my knowledge, butthose are your kids, and their safety comes first.”

Henderson also urged members of the community to remember thatHalloween is meant to be a fun day for children, and it never hurtsto make a child happy.

“It can be inconvenient when you’ve got people ringing to thedoor, but be nice to the children,” he said. “They look forward tothis day, and you can put up with it for a few hours.”

Henderson said law enforcement will be out in force on Halloweennight, and parents should encourage their children to flag down anofficer if they get separated from their group for some reason.

Along the lines of Halloween mischief, Rushing remindedcommunity members that kids are out playing tricks as well asasking for treats, and that rather than taking matters into theirown hands, citizens are asked to contact law enforcementinstead.

“Be aware that kids will be up to mischief also,” he said. “Ifthere are problems, contact us, and we’ll work with the homeowneron what penalties are applicable if they’re caught.”

Both officials also encouraged church and family events as aviable alternative to being out on the street at all on Wednesdaynight.

“I know Easthaven Baptist Church is having a big affair, and I’mnot sure how many other local churches are doing such things tokeep kids off the streets,” Henderson said. “But we appreciatetheir help and hope parents will take advantage of that.”