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Can Halloween Be a Wedge Issue This Year?

It might be in Haddonfield, a Republican town ready to defy an order from a Republican governor.

They don't come much more true, red Republican than Letitia "Tish" Colombi. The long-time mayor of Haddonfield is a steady bulkhead against a powerful Democratic machine in Camden County, always sporting a snappy red outfit when Gov. Chris Christie comes to town, as he has twice in the last five months.

So when Colombi takes a stand against a directive from Christie, it could just be a defining wedge issue in this combative presidential campaign season.

"The children of Haddonfield have overruled the governor and have decided they want to go trick-or-treating this week on Friday, as we have planned," Colombi said Wednesday, hours after Christie issued a directive banning trick-or-treating on Oct. 31 and suggesting it be held next week. He issued the directive in the wake of the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.

"I would never willingly defy an order from the governor, but I think it's more of a directive for towns that haven't finished cleaning up from the storm," Colombi said. "Besides, can you look a second-grader in the eyes and tell them they can't go trick-or-treating?"

Colombi also noted Haddonfield had postponed trick-or-treating on Tuesday, the day after the super storm that has claimed more than 30 lives in this country since it blew ashore near Atlantic City on Monday. Haddonfield had already scheduled trick-or-treating in the borough for 2 to 6 p.m. on Friday and the local historical society added a final weekend encore of its annual haunted house from 6:30 pto 8:30 p.m. to cap off the night.

Christie issued an executive order Wednesday declaring that no New Jersey town can hold trick-or-treating today, Oct. 31. If towns had planned to do so, they must move trick-or-treating and any public celebrations to Monday, Nov. 5.

Towns that already moved trick-or-treating to another day other than Oct. 31 can keep their plans, but state officials are still suggesting Monday instead.

“As governor, it is my responsibility to use all available resources of the state government to protect against the emergency created by Hurricane Sandy – postponing Halloween celebrations by five days is a commonsense and necessary step to accomplish that,” Christie said in a statement.

Colombi said a school break here all of next week week also factored in to the decision to trick-or-treat on Friday.

"A lot of families go away that week and we wanted all of the children to have a chance to do this," she said. "Besides, if the parents end up eating all the candy they bought we might have a public health crisis on our hands."

On a serious note, Colombi said the borough has worked hard to clean up the damage from Hurricane Sandy, with more than a dozen trees down in this 2.5-square-mile borough of nearly 10,000 trees in the public right of way. She said parents often accompany children while trick-or-treating and areas where there may still be some danger are clearly marked with caution tape.

Neighboring Haddon Township heeded the governor's order and postponed its trick-or-treating to Monday, Nov. 5, from 3 to 6 p.m. Collingswood decided to keep its Saturday hours of noon-4 p.m.

Another issue to note is that daylight saving time ends early Sunday morning and darkness will fall sooner next week.

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Sean Andrew November 02, 2012 at 10:04 PM
Dead on, Mr. B! Instead of parents taking the opportunity to teach kids the importance of sacrifice to benefit a group of survivors of this devastation that they will likely never know, they are focused on candy bars, much of which will go to waste.
Brian Kelly November 04, 2012 at 02:13 PM
The point I was trying to make earlier, and obviously did a bad job of, was with the catastrophe that hit us, whatever time we celebrated Halloween, or if we even had it at all meant nothing. Maybe some kind of fund drive, with the whole town working together to help the victims of Sandy would have given the kids a chance to be part of something meaningful.
Lane November 04, 2012 at 02:17 PM
The bottom line is that the Governor's directive has been disregarded. If you BOTHERED to read the Governor's followup comments it is very clear that there was no caveat for celebrations initially scheduled for after 10/31. The Governor said, and I quote, "celebrations delayed til Saturday are not enough". In other words, no matter what day your municipality scheduled trick-or-treating....no celebration til 11/5. Enough of this hocus pocus with the truth. Sorry that his directive was inconvenient for you. You disregarded the directive. Period!
Maryann Campling November 04, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Two friends of mine who have young children, arranged their lives so, in accordance with the Governor's directive, trick or treating would occur on November 5. When they were notified that it had been changed to November 2 (they both work outside the home) they complained via a phone call to one of our Commisioners....who suggested that they TAKE OFF FROM WORK! I am not making this up!
Brian Kelly November 04, 2012 at 03:42 PM
You missed the point I was trying to make. With the disaster that has hit our state and the untold human suffering, whether kids in Haddonfield go trick or treating is the last thing Governor Christie has on his mind. Since I stopped trick or treating 45 years ago I could care less if they had it or not but you're right that the Mayor disregarded the directive.

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