Some residents have called for street closures.
WESTFIELD, NJ — With mischief night and Halloween falling on a weekend in this year of coronavirus, residents have requested certain residential streets be shut, the mayor said.
That, however, is not going to happen, Mayor Shelley Brindle said in a video broadcast with Police Chief Christopher Battiloro this week.
“We have gotten many requests from different residents [who] have asked us to close their streets for Halloween,” Brindle said. “We have gotten lots and lots of requests, but it’s just not feasible for us to close so many streets in town over the course of the night.”
Battiloro’s strong advice for the public: Finish your trick-or-treating before darkness falls. The sun will set around 5:54 p.m. on Halloween night, Saturday, Oct. 31.
“With it being on a Saturday this year, our kids can get out there earlier in the day, and there is no reason for our kids to be out there in the dark,” Battiloro said.
The concern is pedestrian safety, the chief said, recalling a young teenager who a driver hit in the 100 block of Dudley Avenue on Halloween night in 2013. Roads were slick that night, and the girl was, in fact, one of three children then struck by vehicles. Around that same time, the driver of a pickup truck also hit two 14-year-old boys on Chestnut Street and Lenox Avenue.
Battiloro said his greatest concern this year is mischief night, and officers will be deployed appropriately.
The annual night of mischief falls on a Friday this year, comes amid growing concerns about restless teenagers in Westfield and follows a national shortage of toilet paper, which teens have traditionally decorated properties with on the night before Halloween.
The story continues below the video.
But toilet paper tossing is not all the teens have done.
“It has traditionally been a night of mischief in Westfield,” Battiloro said. “What people feel is harmless mischief actually results in property damage. I have a full day of training Friday but depending on what happens, I may be suiting up and on the streets.”
Concerns about restless teenagers gathering at night in Mindowaskin Park — located next to the police station — prompted police to place bright lights at the park’s playground where, Battiloro said, the youths had been gathering in numbers of up to 100 under the “cloak of darkness.”
The issues, however, extend to the downtown, where Battiloro said the department has assigned an officer to walk the beat.
“We’re seeing the large problems downtown there,” he said. “We’re seeing complaints about juveniles accessing the rooftops.”
Officials have also noted complaints about youths on bicycles blocking sidewalks. “There is an officer assigned to foot patrol,” Battiloro said. “Basically, it’s like herding cattle. We don’t want public pathways obstructed.”
As for the candy-collecting holiday, while Halloween has prompted some municipalities — including Plainfield and Glen Ridge — to altogether cancel the tradition due to COVID-19, Westfield is sticking by Gov. Phil Murphy’s directive to trick or treat with caution.
“I would just implore kids and parents to just be very smart and cautious,” Brindle said. “Obviously, I do think trick or treating is something these kids need to look forward to.”
The town recognizes not everyone wants to participate. That’s why Brindle said Lifelong Westfield, a town group formed for seniors, is crafting signs for those who wish to opt out of candy distribution due to coronavirus.
“This is one that everybody’s going to understand if they’re not comfortable,” Brindle said.
More trick-or-treating tips during COVID-19:
- Wear a mask/face covering. “Your regular Superman mask doesn’t count,” Brindle said, reiterating state Health Department guidance.
- Keep your trick or treating plan small, limiting it to within your block or neighborhood, she said.
- The best option is to arrange or place individual packaged candy for pickup to avoid having trick-or-treaters dipping into a shared bowl, officials said.
The state Health Department has additionally provided the following guidance for treat distribution:
Good option: Limit interaction or contact with trick-or-treaters, wear a mask when individuals come to the door and regularly wash hands.
Better option: Leave a treat bowl on a porch or table or in a place where it may be easily accessed while adhering to social distancing requirements.
Best option: Arrange individually packaged candy so that trick or treaters can grab and go without accessing a shared bowl.
Click here for the state’s full guidance.
Email Matt Kadosh at email@example.com | Twitter: @MattKadosh
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