CANADENSIS, Pa. >> The ongoing manhunt in northeastern Pennsylvania for the suspect in the deadly state police ambush last month has scrapped plans for trick-or-treating Friday and what would have been the 50th anniversary of a beloved Halloween parade.
But kids in the mountainous region still managed to celebrate by “trunk-or-treating.”
The tailgate party held last weekend at a school parking lot in rural Barrett Township came as authorities continue to search the woods for Eric Frein, the suspect charged with killing one state trooper and seriously wounding another.
Organizers of Sunday’s event called it a success, noting hundreds of children turned out for activities including face painting and a costume contest, and to see dozens of car trunks decorated for the spooky holiday. Oh, and to get lots of candy.
“It really was a great day,” said Cheryl Jones, a member of the township’s Halloween parade committee.
Police believe Frein has been hiding in the rugged area, near where his parents live, since the troopers were ambushed Sept. 12 outside their barracks in Blooming Grove.
The committee had originally planned to hold the 50th anniversary of the town’s Halloween parade on Sunday, but authorities said the logistics would have presented problems during the manhunt. The event draws participants from all over the region, and includes marching bands, floats, costumed revelers throwing candy and thousands of spectators gathered along a main road, committee chairwoman Betty Oppelt said Thursday.
“The Halloween parade is a big, big, big deal,” Oppelt said. “This is not a rinky-dink parade.”
Still, “trunk-or-treat” seemed to be a hit with the children, said township supervisor Ralph Megliola. He said he spent that day handing out sweets from the flatbed of a truck decorated with fake spider webs, a big spider, pumpkins and mums.
And his 9-year-old son made out pretty well on the candy front.
“He doesn’t bring that much home from the parade, believe me,” Megliola said.
The township now plans to hold its 50th anniversary parade in 2015.