Once again, our local Uptown merchants deserve a big thank you from our entire community — children, parents and extended families — for their participation in today’s Safe ‘n’ Sane Halloween celebration.
Once upon a time in the not so distant past, the spooky night of Halloween raised many concerns for families such as hazardous or dangerous costumes, masked children darting in and out of traffic and even questionable candy collected from strangers.
Thanks to the largess, generosity and community spirit of the Uptown merchants and the event’s organizers, the Historic Uptown Susanville Association and the city of Susanville for two decades, local children have an opportunity to avoid most of those scary hazards and enjoy a happy and fun afternoon and evening of dressing up and collecting candy in a safe manner.
Believe it or not, it hasn’t always been such an easy undertaking.
Back in 1998, HUSA sponsored the event on Main Street, but the event raised many concerns. According to an informal survey, the HUSA merchants were split about evenly on the wisdom of closing Main Street for the event, and the organization even considered moving Safe ‘n’ Sane Halloween to a park or the Lassen County Fairgrounds in 1999.
While the city council approved the street closure and made arrangements with Caltrans, it expressed concerns regarding pedestrian safety should a runaway truck be unable to stop during the event.
The police chief wondered if Cottage Street would be able to handle all the detoured traffic and Explorer Scouts declined to provide pedestrian control on Main Street that year due to safety concerns.
Back then participating merchants displayed orange pumpkin posters in their windows to alert trick or treaters to participating businesses, and children were encouraged not to bother merchants who declined to join the party.
And over the years, the Safe ‘n’ Sane Halloween celebration has only gotten bigger and bigger and better and better.
Local dance groups provide free, live entertainment. There are costume contests for children and adults. Hey, there’s even a costume contest for pets, if you can believe that.
One of the most popular, newly added events is the Coffin Races that pit local agencies and groups against each other in a mad dash down Main Street.
How many cities can you name that shut down their Main Street for a couple of hours on Halloween just so thousands of children and their parents can go out to play and safely collect candy from all the local businesses? I can only think of one, and we all should be thankful we live in such a place.
Kudos to HUSA, the city of Susanville, the Uptown merchants, the Susanville Police Department, the California Highway Patrol, Caltrans and all the other groups, organizations and individuals who came together this year to make this a happy, joyous and festive event for our children, perhaps even a highlight of their year.
Thank you all, and well done.