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Trick-or-treat times are a constant source of consternation

Oct. 4, 2007

With some residents crying out for trick or treat to go back to Halloween night and others for keeping it on a weekend, Whitefish Bay is a microcosm of the annual battles communities face when setting trick-or-treat times.

The nontraditionalists won out, however, as official trick-or-treat hours for this year are 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28.

Whitefish Bay Village President Kathleen Pritchard said Milwaukee County communities agreed through the Intergovernmental Cooperation Council to the Sunday time for safety reasons. The agreement was made decades ago, at a time when children reportedly found pins in their candy, she said.

Acknowledging that the agreement might be outdated now, Pritchard nevertheless said no community elected leader at the ICC has ever suggested changing the day or time.

Pritchard also said neighborhoods are free to hold their own trick-or-treat celebrations or go to the annual Great Pumpkin Display if they want something to do at night during Halloween.

For some, the issue isn't as much safety as it is convenience.

In a recent e-mailed letter to the Whitefish Bay Village Board, Katherine Murray of North Berkeley Boulevard wrote in support trick-or-treating on the Sunday before Halloween because Oct. 31 often falls on a weekday.

"Most people work and won't be home until 6 or 6:30 p.m.," she wrote. "If you have trick-or-treating from 5 to 7 p.m. on a weekday, no one will be home to hand out candy to the trick-or-treaters. The kids that do go to day care won't be able to go trick-or-treating."

But some in Whitefish Bay don't agree, and they've told the Village Board.

"I believe it is time for the village to return trick-or-treating to its original and traditional time, which is on the night of Oct. 31, at dusk," wrote Colleen and Kevin Buckley of North Kent Avenue.

The Buckleys noted that many communities have gone back to that tradition and question why the village hasn't followed suit.

"Whitefish Bay is one of the most friendly, walkable and crime-free neighborhoods in Wisconsin," they wrote. "Apparently, the rest of the neighborhoods in the U.S. somehow manage to adhere to tradition, while protecting their children sufficiently."

Not scared off everywhere

While nearly all Milwaukee County communities agreed years ago to hold trick-or-treating on the Sunday before Halloween, many outside the county have gone back to Halloween trick-or-treating. Menomonee Falls, for example, will hold its official trick-or-treat hours from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31; Germantown, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.; Waukesha, 5 to 7 p.m.; and Brookfield, 5 to 7:30 p.m.

The switch back to Halloween trick-or-treating in Brookfield and Menomonee Falls came after community surveys showed the majority of respondents wanted the change.

Elm Grove survey respondents, however, wanted to stick to the weekend before Halloween, said Village Manager David DeAngelis.

Setting trick-or-treat hours is a great bugaboo for officials all over the area, as former Menomonee Falls Village President Joseph Greco knows too well.

"In my 20 years in office, the most phone calls that went to the Village Hall was over trick-or-treating," he said. "We were fighting a tax increase, trying to get economic developing going, but the hottest thing was trick-or-treat."

Setting the official hours as Halloween night once and for all has helped quiet the annual uproar, Greco said.

Interim Menomonee Falls Police Chief Jack Pitroff said there haven't been any safety issues.

"We beef up and put people in subdivisions," Petroff said.

Parents also have been urged to accompany their children.

"We even went on cable TV with (encouraging parental guidance)," Greco said.

Doing as your neighbor does

Following other communities' leads tends to reduce crossover with trick-or-treaters coming in from other communities when their trick-or-treat time is over, officials said.

That plays somewhat into the decision of Brown Deer to stick with Sundays, said Brown Deer Village Manager Russell Van Gompel.

"It is safer for the community and we don't want people coming into our community from other communities because we have different hours," Van Gompel said.

Bayside Village Manager Andy Pederson said Bayside residents seem satisfied with Sunday trick-or-treating.

"We haven't had any requests (to change)," he said.

Bayside trick or treat is followed by a bonfire at 5:30 p.m. at Ellsworth Park and a Fright Night from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

"I've always thought neighboring communities should have the same trick-or-treat times," said Shorewood Village Manager Chris Swartz. "That seems to make the most people happy."

Jane Ford-Stewart can be reached at (262) 446-6607 or jford@cninow.com.

AT A GLANCE

Selected trick-or-treat days and times:

Bayside: 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28

Brown Deer, Fox Point, Glendale: 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28

River Hills: expected to set official hours of 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28

Shorewood: 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28

Whitefish Bay: 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28

Milwaukee: 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28

Mequon: 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28

Brookfield: 5 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31

Elm Grove: 5 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27

Menomonee Falls: 5 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31

Waukesha: 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31

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