Bringing Halloween out of the dark

By Bob Friedrich

This past week as we felt the chill of fall in the air, many of us experienced the sights and sounds of Halloween.

It’s a time that harkens back to those wonderful childhood memories of Jack-o-lanterns, spooky decorations, pumpkin carvings and candied apples. But the indelible images of trick-or treating door to door in outlandish costumes with a loving parent is likely the strongest reminiscence. And as adults, the sounds of children laughing and scampering from door to door is bound to bring a smile to even the most serious among us.

Halloween is a special time for so many families and another of our nation’s great traditions that is celebrated from coast to coast. All too often Halloween occurs on a weekday as it did last week, which limits working families to a precious few hours with the kids. Many who don’t make it home from work on time miss out on this cherished memory. And those who left work early, only to get stuck in traffic or commuter delays, are stressed out before the first door bell is rung. And lest not forget that the folks offering those treats must also be home to answer that doorbell.

So after gulping down a rushed dinner while the kids are waiting anxiously in costume. The parents find that by the time the trick or treat ritual begins, the sun has already set necessitating the use of flashlights to lighten up darkened and often dangerous streets, sidewalks and stairs.

As president of Glen Oaks Village, New York’s largest garden apartment co-op with 3,000 families, I know Halloween has always presented a concern in our sprawling horizontal community of 134 buildings. Keeping kids safe along darkened streets and meandering sidewalks that run through connecting courtyards has always been a challenge. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

So I recently met with Congressman Steve Israel to discuss this with him. I told him we need to bring Halloween out of the darkness and into the daylight where more families can participate without haste nor hazard. I asked him to introduce a congressional Resolution that would move Halloween to the last Saturday of October. This congressional action has many precedents, as Congress mandated certain holidays be moved to Mondays, decades ago.

The “Bring Halloween Out of the Darkness” bill that Congressman Israel will be introducing soon is a simple solution that truly has universal nonpartisan appeal and could easily be embraced by both Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives.

The benefits are enormous. The likelihood of more family members spending this time together is real. The rushing home from work ritual would end, children would have more time to trick or treat and do it in the daylight and the $7.5 billion dollar Halloween industry that includes both large and small businesses could potentially see sales double as more families participate for longer periods of time.

One of our most cherished assets — family time together — will benefit from this date-change legislation. With your help we can shine the light on Halloween and bring it out of the darkness, making it safer for everyone.

Congresswoman Grace Meng loved the idea when I discussed it with her at a civic meeting.

She recently helped form a congressional caucus to protect children and this legislation would do just that. Join me and ask your elected representative to help light up Halloween.

Perhaps by next year we will finally be able to cast away those flashlights and enjoy the sights and sounds of this festive holiday in the daylight.

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