Oak Park shifts trick-or-treating hours

Citing potential racial biases, the board votes to change hours to 4-8 p.m.

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By Stacey Sheridan

Staff Reporter

For decades, Oak Park allowed trick-or-treating during the hours of 3-7 p.m. on Halloween. This year, however, kids can continue their candy collecting in Oak Park past that, as the board moved to push back trick-or-treating hours to 4-8 p.m. at its Oct. 7 meeting. 

Trustee Arti Walker-Peddakotla made a large push to set the hours back. "This is a really good example of two things," she said. "One: why racial equity training is really important because if we had used a checklist to evaluate this ordinance, we would have realized that this is overreach." The board also voted affirmatively to change the ordinance into a resolution.  

Walker-Peddakotla went on to say that the standard 3-7 p.m. trick-or-treating timeframe negatively affects children with working parents or single parents. Those parents, she said, may not be back in time from work. 

A main concern in keeping the tradition of a 3-7 p.m. timeframe, some felt, was the potential for police to unfairly target children of color out trick-or-treating after 7 p.m. for violating the ordinance. The police department could not be reached to find out if any ordinance violations had been given in past years to trick-or-treaters, of color or otherwise, collecting candy after 7 p.m.  

In public comment, Susanne Fairfax, told the board she agreed with Walker-Peddakotla's concerns. "This is a very, very good example of the difference using a racial equity lens when creating laws and codes for this village and not doing, how something can gently become a real problem." Fairfax called Halloween in Oak Park "beautiful" because it is one of the times when Oak Parkers connect with people from other communities who come to Oak Park to trick or treat. She cautioned the board against marring it by constricting trick-or-treating hours. 

Anthony Clark, community activist and Oak Park and River Forest High School teacher, addressed the board after Fairfax, saying, "I just wanted to share a quick truth, being a black male." He went on to tell the board that after being shot in 2007 while serving in the military, he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. 

"In the process of attending therapy sessions, I realized that I have PTSD from being a child, from interaction with police officers in this community, when I was choked out in Scoville Park at the age of 12," he said. Clark's family moved to Oak Park when he was five years old. 

"I honestly can't even think straight. I'm a little irritated, I'll be honest with you," Clark said to the board. "You all are wonderful individuals, but to have people with privilege speak for me and my experiences is unacceptable."

The board, Clark said, was missing the "systemic issue" and that even as an educated black man, he still fears interacting with Oak Park police officers.

"If we're truly a progressive community, we should be limiting police interaction," Clark said. "I don't give a damn if you have three good cops; the system is the problem." He also said that he sees symptoms of PTSD in his students caused by police interaction. 

"If I ever have a child, I'll be damned if police have a way or say in how he is raised," Clark said before stepping back from the podium. The audience clapped for Clark, as he exited the meeting. 

In the final public comment regarding Halloween, Oak Park father Will Sims told the board he agreed with Clark. "I have an 11-year-old son and we trick or treat past 7 o'clock," he said. "He is getting taller, he's going to be recognized as a young black male, which is to be a target for police, whether it's trick-or-treating or whatever."

According to Sims, ending Halloween festivities at 7 p.m. is too early and it targets people who work, calling it unfair. "It also targets people from Austin, from Maywood, neighboring communities that don't have great trick-or-treating," said Sims. Children from those neighborhoods often trick or treat in Oak Park. Imposing a time limit would negatively affect those children and make Oak Park look less welcoming to outsiders of color, he added. 

Sims doesn't think there should be a rule at all dictating when kids can or cannot trick or treat. "Why put a law on Halloween? It doesn't make sense," he said. "It's Halloween! We're supposed to be out there having fun, saying, 'Boo!' and collecting candy." Sims was also met with applause from the audience. 

Trustee Deno Andrews agreed 7 p.m. was too early, suggesting that the board get rid of designated Halloween hours or move them to either 3-8 p.m. or 4-8 p.m. Trustee Dan Moroney preferred 4-8 p.m., while Walker-Peddakotla wanted to abolish the timeframe completely. 

"I just don't think that we should have any hours and if we do have hours, they should be extended to 9 p.m. at the latest," she said. 

Trustee Jim Taglia supported 4-8 p.m., citing public safety concerns. "People do drink on that evening, they are out driving, and kids are hard to see at night," he said. 

In a unanimous vote, the board decided to change Halloween hours from 3-7 p.m. to 4-8 p.m.

Reader Comments

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Garett Auriemma  

Posted: October 10th, 2019 4:00 PM

Why all the drama? When you're done handing out candy, turn off your porch light and decorations. That's pretty the universal symbol for 'next house, please."

Steve Miller  

Posted: October 10th, 2019 2:45 PM

Good grief, neighbors.

Robert Zeh  

Posted: October 9th, 2019 9:41 PM

This is peak Oak Park. The board is worrying about the police giving out Halloween citations without knowing if they've ever done so.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: October 9th, 2019 5:54 PM

Did citations really get issued for people trick or treating too late? That sounds nuts. It can be a little annoying to have people come later but it's one day per year. I don't think we need to be issuing tickets. I also don't even know how that's legal. Is it illegal to ring someone's doorbell? The late people are usually from Chicago and they don't even know the rules as they don't live here. The whole thing seems like a giant waste of time.

Kline Maureen  

Posted: October 9th, 2019 10:07 AM

Let's just hope the weather is decent. Personally, I would have preferred a shorter (3 hour) time frame but I'm glad the official "time" has been extended beyond 7 PM which is very early for many working parents. And while I understand the idea that you can just "turn off your light and not answer your door" - - I generally enjoy seeing all the kids and passing out the candy - though much more so if it's not cold and rainy... And as much fun as it may be, I'm glad when it's over. Whether you're out with your kids or home handing out candy, it gets exhausting after a while and so I think an "official" suggested ending time is good for everyone.

Ken Van Spankerswanson  

Posted: October 9th, 2019 8:48 AM

As a home owner, we start handing candy out around 4:00-4:30. We stop when we run out of candy, period. And that is always before 7:00 pm. Turn off the lights, unplug the door bell and go to the kitchen to have dinner with family, sometime friends, and get home work done etc. Oh and does the village board share their new rules with the residents of the surrounding communities? No they don't. Do they post hours on streets, no they don't. If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there does it make a sound? scream at the TV, much? thanks for spending time discussing something that matters so little.

Mikhail Ivanov  

Posted: October 9th, 2019 7:20 AM

P.S. -- Bravo to Trustee Arti for reducing the level of discourse of the Board to that of a Homeowners Association (HOA). Important issues like unfunded pensions, crumbling infrastructure, high taxes, falling home values, and declining population need to be addressed, but she consistently makes sure that these things are seldom discussed. She is the "Queen of Halloween"...and an imposter in every sense of the word.

Mikhail Ivanov  

Posted: October 9th, 2019 7:16 AM

Guess what? You can open your doors for trick-or-treating whenever you want. I'll be doing 3-7pm and will let me friends and neighbors know. At 7pm, I'll be having a fun dinner with friends and won't answer the door any longer. Don't worry, lots of families fro Austin and other communities have come by every other year starting at 5:30 or so. We should remember that the Village Board is an (unfortunately) useless body that serves no real purpose. People and neighbors run this community, not those lunatics.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: October 9th, 2019 7:05 AM

Danny Davis just has to be so worried.

Kevin Peppard from Oak Park  

Posted: October 9th, 2019 1:28 AM

@Bill Dwyer:Your turning Anthony Clark's language back on him reminds of a message an admiral sent to Admiral Nimitz in the first,,uneventful days of the battle for Okinawa.: "I may be crazy, but I think the Japanese have given up.on the war". Nimitz replied, "Forget everything after, "I may be crazy.""

Jim McDonald from Forest Park  

Posted: October 9th, 2019 1:18 AM

Really? I actually thought this was a The Onion column .

Kelly Bacon Desmarais  

Posted: October 8th, 2019 9:35 PM

Arti Walker-Peddakotla is nothing but a toxic racial agitator who is bad for our community.

Ted Schuster  

Posted: October 8th, 2019 9:13 PM

Perhaps we're overthinking this a bit, everyone.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: October 8th, 2019 6:17 PM

I find it amazing and rather troubling that, in a 900 word article supposedly about the VOP board changing the hours for trick or treating, nearly 30 percent of the article deals with wannabe Congressman Anthony Clark's personal problems and his chronic distrust of police and other authorities. Though it was a bit heartening to read that Clark was able to state at least one fact, i.e., "I honestly can't even think straight." True dat, Anthony.

Klara Gabor  

Posted: October 8th, 2019 5:43 PM

Why does this and everything else become a racial issue ? Why not make the hours until midnight for parents who may not get home until 7 or 8 p.m. ? People coming home from work also want to sit down in peace and quiet and have dinner and whatever their routine is. Do these trustees stay up at night thinking of nonsense they can address since they obviously aren't addressing the real problems in Oak Park. We hear of people leaving Chicago, well they are leaving Oak Park too . The swooshing sound you hear is the village going down the toilet.

Deborah Risteen Mercer  

Posted: October 8th, 2019 5:31 PM

Four hours is too long. How about 6-8?

Jeff Schroeder from Oak Park  

Posted: October 8th, 2019 5:15 PM

It has generally been our experience that trick or treating doesn't end until around 8:00 PM anyway. The only issue I have is that it delays our family being able to sit down for dinner. That and the fact that our dog feels he has to bark loudly every time the doorbell rings. But we will happily comply with the new time if it makes us better people.

Ramona Lopez  

Posted: October 8th, 2019 4:59 PM

Can't the data be had to figure out how many tickets were written for the halloween "infraction" by a simply FOIA request? I find it very convenient that Arti who complains about kids of color being targeted once again has ZERO data to back up her "concern". This is a typical strategy of activists. Throw data and facts out the window, only feelings count.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: October 8th, 2019 4:28 PM

Ah,..... don't answer the door after seven o'clock.

PJ Atlas  

Posted: October 8th, 2019 3:17 PM

Halloween should be opt in only with indicative signage, recyclable of course. I would like to move but my house value is in the toilet and so I'm stuck and am tired of passing out candy. Even with the lights out kids still ring the bell. Lastly, if anyone plays a trick on my house my Ring doorbell is watching...

Nick Polido  

Posted: October 8th, 2019 2:47 PM

Why is Anthony Clark our self promoting activistBiennial Congressional candidate and OPRF teacher still employed at this High School??

Steve Brown  

Posted: October 8th, 2019 2:30 PM

I'm glad to see there were some voices of reason as I was unable to attend this meeting. First off, we don't NEED a law telling people when to trick or treat. Do our local elected officials really have nothing else to do? If so, just adjourn the meeting. You don't have to manufacture problems to solve by passing unnecessary laws. Second, such an ordinance would almost certainly violate the first amendment. You can't regulate "trick or treating" as that is speech. I doubt you can pass a law governing to people's right to ring someone's doorbell at all, regardless of reason. Third of all, this proposed ordinance would have been largely unenforceable and would serve only as a pretense for legalized police harassment. And finally, when I was a kid, we trick or treated after dark. It was more fun that way. This is exactly the kind of regulatory overreach that people detest. Let us live our lives and parent our children as we see fit to do.

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