December 1, 2021

Halloween: Move it or leave it?

Debate looks at whether to change festivities to day other than Oct. 31

Todd R. McAdam/Managing Editor

Carmen Donovan, 9, and Lucy Weaver, 9, of Cortland get a treat Thursday from the Child Advocacy Center before a Halloween parade in downtown Cortland.

The kids rush home from school, eat dinner and then it’s doing hair, masks and makeup as they prepare to head out into the ghoulish night to get candy.

An online petition at Change.org to celebrate Halloween and trick-or-treating on the last Saturday of October instead of Oct. 31 has gained more than 100,000 signatures nationwide. It has spawned a number of counter-petitions themselves gathering tens of thousands of signatures.

Halloween and Costume Association has divided the nation — and people in Cortland — on whether the holiday should be moved or celebrated another way. It’s not a federal holiday, so celebrations are a matter of personal preference.

Originally, the association pushed to celebrate the holiday on the last Saturday, saying it would not only allow kids more time to trick-or-treat, but it would be safer for them. According to the National Safety Council children are more than twice as likely to be hit and killed by a car on Halloween compared to any other day of the year.

However, after receiving feedback in 2018, the organization decided to partner with Party City and other companies to push National Trick-or-Treat Day, which would enable kids to get out during daylight hours to get candy and celebrate spooky festivities.

In Cortland County, there have been festivities leading up to Halloween, including the Cortland Elks Lodge’s 6th Annual Cortland County Halloween Parade on Main Street in Cortland, a zombie walk, two haunted houses and a hat trick of other treats.

Some parents, children and educators support moving the day, while others say leave it be.
Charyssa Graziano watched as her daughter, 9-year-old Carmen Donovan, and her friend, 9-year- old Lucy Weaver, collected a treat each from Megan Thomas and Robin Cataldo of the Child Advocacy Center.

It was early, before 5 p.m. Thursday, just ahead of a downtown Halloween parade, but Graziano was liking the idea of moving Halloween to the last Saturday of the month.

“Then it wouldn’t be on a school night,” Graziano said. The kids wouldn’t have to rush to bed once they came home from trick-or-treating — if the sugar rush would let that happen.

“Then they can stay in on Sunday,” she added, with the realization spreading across her face. “As a mom of four, I’m down with that.”

Fifteen feet away, Thomas disagreed. “Keep it the same,” she said, but had difficulty explaining why. “I don’t know. It’s always been that way.”

Then she added: “When it’s on a school day, it’s more fun.”

That was Tim Davis’ reasoning, even as he guided 4-year-old Isla Davis and 6-year-old Elliott Davis down Main Street. “Leave it where it’s at,” he said from behind a giant taco outfit. “I get it, though.”

Mr. Incredible, also known as Arron Seamon, wandered Main Street with the rest of the Incredible, or Seamon, family: Allison, 2-year-old Damian and 7-year-old Dexter. “It would make sense to me,” Arron Seamon said of moving Halloween. “Then you have school and everything.”

Dexter completed his thought: “They next day is a school day; I’d be exhausted.”

Mindy Gardner at the YWCA of Cortland said she’s stuck between moving the holiday or leaving it be, but that it would be good to see the Halloween events happen on one day instead of all week.

“That would solve a lot of problems,” she said.

Gardner, a teacher for Bridges for Kids at the YWCA, said when it’s done that way, the kids wouldn’t be hyped up all week.

She said that throughout last week the kids were constantly talking about their costumes, what parties they were attending and what candy they were hoping to get.

When it comes to the day after Halloween, Gardner said she’s already learned that it’s best to not make the kids do a lot of academic work as they come down from their sugar rushes and decompress.

“It’s really just become a candy fest,” she said.

Managing Editor Todd R. McAdam contributed to this report.