Village of Roscoe trustees discuss improvements for Saturday trick-or-treating next year
The Village of Roscoe Board of Trustees voted unanimously to change trick-or-treating in the Village of Roscoe from Sunday to "the last Saturday in October," and after it happened, many Roscoe residents emailed their Village trustees with pictures of families and cars crowding their streets. Village President Mark Szula led a discussion at the Nov. 2 Village Board meeting about the new policy, though no residents attended.
Szula reported to the Board that he and Village Administrator Scott Sanders had been talking to other municipalities and, "I can tell you that some of the other surrounding communities are going to jump on board with changing it to the last Saturday of the month, which would benefit everybody in the region."
Almost all the complaints of crowds and traffic came from the Chicory Ridge subdivision, and mostly from the southeast part, closest to Roscoe Road. For years, Chicory Ridge has been a favorite destination for trick-or-treaters. Residents of the back of Chicory Ridge didn't report traffic jams, though their candy ran out faster than ever. Other Roscoe subdivisions also reported more kids than usual, though not massive crowds, and while some didn't like it, others enjoyed being able to give out more candy.
Trustee Anthony Keene, who lives in Chicory Ridge, said the purpose of this event was to participate together as a community and for the kids to have fun while maintaining public safety. "I think we had a tremendous success," he said. Keene ran out of candy in an hour and 15 minute, so he took his wife out for dinner.
As a retired safety professional, Keene is often a stickler for safety issues, sometimes giving vivid examples at Village meetings of why safety is important. But he admitted that, when it comes to Saturday trick-or-treating, there is still a "learning curve." Referring to Chicory Ridge, he said the Village needs to "reevaluate how we transition through the subdivision." He suggested having "one-way traffic snake through on a given path," coming in one way and out another. Szula proposed that trick-or-treaters should leave their cars at Chicory Ridge Park.
Szula, who also lives in Chicory Ridge, repeated that the Board had made the change to Saturday for safety reasons. In fact, a 25 year analysis of data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration confirms that it's more dangerous to be on the roads on Halloween. But fewer children are killed in traffic accidents when Halloween falls on a Saturday than any other day of the week. True, Saturday night in general is the deadliest time to be on the road. But when you look at afternoons between 3:00 and 6:00 p.m. (before drunk people start driving home), Saturday and Sunday are the safest days. More than 150,000 people have signed a petition to change trick-or-treating nationwide to the last Saturday of October.
Keene said, "The ittie bitties, they don't look at traffic, they don't care, they say, 'I'm getting candy and I'm running down the street and my mother's trying to catch up with me' but she's got the baby buggy and the dog's pulling the dad. You've got to have some public safety consciousness."
Szula said that if the Village is able to "implement some things with some common sense, I think we can make it a heck of a lot better event and a very safe event." While many neighbors complained that people from outside the community were flooding Chicory Ridge, instead Szula saw many people from the back of the subdivision that he hadn't seen before. "And I never had that before. It wasn't people parking there, they were actually walking" toward the front of the subdivision.
Trustee Justin Plock says he took his children trick-or-treating in Chicory Ridge on Saturday, and "I never once felt their safety was at risk."
Still, the Village trustees were cautious and some had second thoughts. Trustee Michael Dunn said, "The Fourth of July is a static date. Halloween is a static date until we changed it. Are we going to change Fourth of July or Memorial Day?" But others pointed out that Memorial Day is always the last Monday in May, and some communities have rescheduled their Fourth of July celebrations so they fall on a Saturday.
Szula said, "I still think it's a great idea and now we just have to improve on it."
Carol Gustafson said that out of respect for the residents of Chicory Ridge, the Village Board needed to provide some feedback to address their concerns.
Keene pointed out that some people didn't like previous changes either, such as beginning trick-or-treating earlier. He said, "This is a change that takes people out of their traditional comfort zone... A three year old, a five year old, they're not looking at cars. If one of those babies gets hit, if something happens to those children because we're doing this at 8:00 at night and it's pitch black dark, what kind of feedback are we going to give them?"
Keene continued, "We're doing the right thing. Not everybody is going to like it. But we're doing it for the right reasons, and I think if we stick to our guns, this will become the standard that they will go to. Because it makes sense."
Szula said, "We're going to have some conversations about the [Chicory Ridge] garage sale too, that's even crazier than Halloween."