Monday, October 22, 2001

Don't let fear mar Halloween




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        Some people are so spooked about Halloween, you'd think Osama bin Laden himself was going door-to-door trick or treating.

        Monroe has even gone so far as to cancel its neighborhood trick-or-treat night. Instead, Halloween will be held at the local junior-senior high school.

        Before more communities follow suit, they should consider this:

        If you mess with Halloween traditions, make sure something good comes of it. Use the occasion to raise money for charity. Maybe even help America combat terrorism.

High anxiety

        Fears of bioterrorism do make this Halloween especially worrisome. No one wants to be the parent of a child who just bit into a candy bar laced with anthrax.

        Not that Halloween hasn't been a worry to parents and trick-or-treaters before. During the Jurassic Period when I lined up with dinosaurs to beg for neighbors' treats, my biggest fear was falling down a set of porch steps after my mask fogged up my glasses.

        More recent times have brought fears of some nut giving out street drugs or sticking pins in apples.

        Falling down or biting into a straight pin are still dangerous. But this Halloween, there's the very real fear of very deadly bioterrorism.

Haunted high school

        The worry produced by terrorist attacks and anthrax-laden letters has not been lost on Monroe's city government. Official plans to change trick-or-treat night in the town straddling Warren and Butler counties will probably be approved at Tuesday night's City Council meeting. So says Councilman Steve Campbell.

        Steve's also director of facilities and operations for the Monroe Local School District. He's in charge of the Oct. 31 Halloween festivities at Lemon-Monroe Junior/Senior High School.

        Stressing that plans are in their “organizational phase,” he told me the school's 58 classrooms will look haunted. “Our National Honor Society will do the decorating.”

        Candy will be handed out in each room.

        “So the kids are still going door-to-door.”

        Donations of candy are being accepted.

        “But candy will be checked prior to handing it out.”

        Hallways will be scary. Just like the school.

        “The building is old, built between 1912 and 1964, so it's kind of spooky.”

        Beggars can compete in a costume contest.

        “You got to give them something. You're taking away a tradition.”

        Steve said no one would be asking for donations.

        Someone should rethink that. Donations could go to fight the effects of terrorism. Funds raised could help victims' families, aid relief workers or promote understanding in the world.

        If the beggars made donations, that would involve children in the fight against terrorism. They would be doing their part to prove America is a caring nation.

        Steve liked the idea of collecting donations.

        “I don't know if that has been thought of. Maybe we can put a can out for the Red Cross.”

        Steve and the other concerned citizens of Monroe are right to look out for the safety of their children.

        But they also need to be careful about letting anxiety over terrorism alter traditions. This Halloween, the scariest thing that can come to your door is not a goblin or a ghost.

        It's fear.

        Columnist Cliff Radel can be reached at cradle@enquirer.com; 768-8379; fax 768-8340. Past columns at Enquirer.com/columns/radel

       



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