POSTED: 1:33 a.m. HST, Nov 1, 2011
HARTFORD, Conn. » Twelve-year-old McKenzie Gallasso was deciding between dressing as a witch or a werewolf when the phone rang with bad news: Halloween had been canceled.
Police in her Hartford suburb of South Windsor advised families on Monday to call off trick-or-treating because of the October snowstorm that downed power lines and left three-quarters of the town without electricity.
"I was upset because I really wanted to go trick-and-treating and get candy," said McKenzie, who added her mother did not want her to go out because of the snow. "This year I'll have to eat candy from my mom."
The storm that spooked the Northeast with a blanket of wet, branch-snapping snow was forcing cities and towns to discourage or postpone Halloween festivities -- decisions that did not sit well with legions of ghosts, goblins and princesses who were already homebound due to widespread school cancelations.
Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy even suspended the annual tradition of handing out candy at the governor's mansion, heeding the decision of Hartford's mayor to discourage trick-or-treating. He urged mayors and other municipal officials to make decisions themselves about Halloween celebrations.
"No amount of candy is worth a potentially serious or even fatal accident," Malloy said.
Two days after the nor'easter charged up the East Coast, many towns said there were simply too many hazards including snow-clogged sidewalks, slippery surfaces and the possibility of more falling tree limbs. Some urged parents to take children trick-or-treating at malls or organize activities at home with friends.
In Lexington, Mass., 13-year-old Rowan Lavell said he and his family were going to leave town to trick-or-treat after officials called off Monday's festivities.
"I just think it's sad they are trying to reschedule the holiday," he said. "I mean, you can't really do that. It's like changing the date of Christmas."
In the village of Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., which trades on its connection to Washington Irving's Gothic tale "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," a haunted hayride was postponed from Saturday to Sunday because of the storm. The rescheduled event was canceled because of "broken limbs and branches that are still hanging from trees along the route" Mayor Ken Wray wrote on the village website.
Elsewhere in Sleepy Hollow, the "Horseman's Hollow," a haunted trail with a Headless Horseman theme, was closed Sunday, as was "Irving's 'Legend,'" a dramatic retelling of the story.
Those two attractions, which were not scheduled to be open on Halloween, are run by Historic Hudson Valley, which also operates the popular "Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze" at Van Cortlandt Manor in nearby Croton-on-Hudson. That attraction, which features 4,000 hand-carved, illuminated jack o' lanterns, was canceled Sunday and the organization said it could not open for Halloween night as scheduled.
In Salem, Mass., where up to 100,000 people flock to celebrate Halloween, the ghost tours, haunted houses and horror movies were expected to go on as usual Monday. The city, location of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, was largely spared by the weekend storm, receiving only 3 inches of snow and no widespread power outages.
"Everything's a go," said Kate Fox, executive director of Destination Salem, the city's tourism office. "We definitely have the spirit of Halloween."
In South Windsor, police and the town manager were recommending against trick-or-treating, but parents in neighborhoods that still had power were welcome to take their children out, said Vanessa Perry, assistant to the town manager.
One mother, Cyndi Stoddard, said she was frustrated the town did not propose another date for Halloween. She had to break the news to her 4-year-old daughter, who was planning to dress as a snow princess.
"My youngest is upset. She doesn't understand," Stoddard said. "I feel bad for the kids. It's minor in the scheme of things but it's a big thing for kids."
Some towns announced they were "rescheduling" Halloween.
The town of Somers, N.Y., about 40 miles north of Manhattan, announced it was moving the holiday, possibly to next Friday or Saturday. Town Supervisor Mary Beth Murphy said she's received many calls from parents and "we're not going to be ticketing 5-year-olds."
The police department in the Hudson River city of Peekskill, N.Y., without prohibiting trick-or-treating, said in a news release: "It may be best that parents keep their children home and plan alternate activities with close friends and relatives rather than risk the hazards left in the wake of the recent storm."
In Waterbury, Conn., Mayor Michael Jarjura asked city residents to postpone trick-or-treating until Saturday night because trees and power lines were down across the city and many neighborhoods were dark.
"We don't want to usurp the role of parents, but this way here a public declaration that we're going to postpone it is more helpful to the parents and the residents," Jarjura said.
Some parents were finding ways take their kids trick-or-treating, even if it was canceled in their hometown.
Doreen Kelley, of Foxborough, Mass., said that when she heard the town had called off trick-or-treating, she decided to take her son to her friend's neighborhood in Bellingham, about 20 minutes away.
"My son was disappointed, but I just called my friend and we are going there so he's fine now," Kelley said.