Area police offer Halloween safety guidelines

Posted: Wednesday, October 30, 2002


Thursday evening young little creepies will be crawling, and little gremlins will be howling with one thing on their minds: treats.

For these frightfully colorful little monsters, goblins, wraiths, witches, clowns and cartoon characters, their responsibility will be to have fun.

The responsibility will fall to the adult chaperon, supervising grown-up or parent or guardian to make certain the many little rascals who embark upon trick-or-treat travels remain out of trouble and out of harm's way. So what is the best way to do this?

"In general, I would advise parents to watch their kids," said Homer Police Chief Mark Robl.

This is was the consensus from law enforcement officials on the Kenai Peninsula.

"We need to stay ever vigilant," said Soldotna Police Chief Shirley Gifford, who echoed Robl's advice. "They get very excited about getting this candy."

And police in Homer, Soldotna and Kenai plan to be on hand to help keep an eye out for kids going from house to house collecting goodies.

"We specifically target our patrols in neighborhoods to keep traffic slowed down because there will be a lot of foot traffic," said Kenai Police Chief Chuck Kopp. "The costumes often make visibility a lot harder. It's hard to see through those little holes (in masks)."

Therefore, he said, Kenai police are encouraging motorists to be aware that not every trick-or-treater will be able to see or avoid vehicles as easily.

"The more reflective your clothing, the better," Kopp said. "As visibility goes down because of weather, take whatever measures to make yourself more visible to motorists."

Those providing the treats shoulder some of the responsibility of ensuring children's fun and safety, as well.

Lori Seymour lives in Kenai and said she often gets between 250 and 400 kids coming to her door on Halloween night. How does she prepare for them?

"You better have candy," she said. "We'll always have the light on and try not to run out before the night is over."

Seymour said she has lived in Kenai in the Woodlands Subdivi-sion for 23 years. She said she often sees parents accompanying kids ages 2 to 6 to the doors and dropping 7- to 14-year-olds off from cars at each house.

Karen Kester, director at the North Peninsula Recreation Center in Nikiski, said parents are conscientious about where their children go seeking candy and drive them around as Seymour described for older children in Kenai.

"Pretty much what happens here is it's automobiles," Kester said. "Parents get their kids and take them to houses where they know the families. And a portion of the (older) kids find their way to Kenai."

Gifford asked that adolescents and older children help to look out for the smaller ones. She asked that homeowners salt down their driveways in the event that dropping temperatures combine with rain to create slick, hazardous paths.

"We don't want to have trick-or-treaters fall down," she said.

Not all neighborhoods, however, are close enough to accommodate the door-to-door romps that young costumed candy commandos could possibly go on Thursday evening. Clam Gulch and Kasilof are one example.

However, "trunk-or-treating" is being hosted at Tustumena and Kalifornsky Beach elementary schools to give kids a chance to go out in search of goodies.

Jim Russell of Clam Gulch is one of the organizers of the Tustumena event that will take place Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. He has a child at the school and said he hoped the event would provide a safe haven for kids to experience all of Halloween's traditions.

"Houses here are about a mile apart," Russell said. "Trick-or-treating doesn't happen. If they don't go to town, they don't know what it is. They have the Ninilchik carnival. It's good, but they leave something out."

Parents and teachers will decorate their cars -- and themselves, in some cases -- and park their cars in a row at the school. The children will go from car to car collecting treats stored in opened trunks.

"That's basically what its all about -- safety," Russell said. "It's quick and efficient and safe. And if it's cold, they won't be out there too long."

Police also will be on the lookout for tricksters wanting to cause trouble.

"Our biggest problem traditionally on Halloween is vandalism," Robl said. "They get into the egg throwing and paint balling. Most of the times we'll pick up juveniles and turn them over to their parents. But we have made some arrests."

Gifford encouraged parents to go through children's candy after they return home. Kopp suggested that candy that appears improperly sealed should be thrown away. He said parents who suspect tampering should contact area police and turn the candy over for investigation.

"Make sure that it's a memorable event for everybody," Gifford said. "It's supposed to be fun."

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