2017-10-26 / Front Page

Stay safe when trick-or-treating on Oct. 31; First Baptist Trunks of Treats set for 6:30-8

As a well-anticipated night of trick-or-treating fast approaches for the young people of Wilkes County, goblins, ghouls, superheroes, princesses, and cartoon characters are ready to search out homes, businesses, and other places where they can obtain free candy and treats.

On the evening of October 31, those who would dole out safe, but spooky, treasures to all trick-or-treaters, and the trick-or-treaters themselves are encouraged to have plenty of fun on Halloween night but to keep it that way by remaining sensible and safe.

One special event in store for kids of all ages is the annual Trunks of Treats at First Baptist Church. Dozens of trunks and free candy for the kids will be available from 6:30-8 p.m. in the church parking lot on Robert Toombs Avenue.

Halloween has been an annual celebration for hundreds of years, and while it’s now considered a more lighthearted tradition with fun costumes and candy collection, the origins of the eve are steeped within ancient Celtic observances of the festival of Samhain, in which people would don costumes to ward off potentially wicked spirits.

According to History.com, “In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints; soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating and carving jack-o-lanterns. Around the world, as days grow shorter and nights get colder, people continue to usher in the season with gatherings, costumes, and sweet treats.”

Thanks to the Irish immigrants who swarmed America in the latter half of the 19th century, Halloween became quite the popular celebration across the nation.

“Borrowing from Irish and English traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today’s ‘trick-or-treat’ tradition. Young women believed that on Halloween they could divine the name or appearance of their future husband by doing tricks with yarn, apple parings or mirrors,” History.com reports. “In the late 1800s, there was a move in America to mold Halloween into a holiday more about community and neighborly get-togethers than about ghosts, pranks, and witchcraft. At the turn of the century, Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the day. Parties focused on games, foods of the season, and festive costumes.

History.com also records that “parents were encouraged by newspapers and community leaders to take anything ‘frightening’ or ‘grotesque’ out of Halloween celebrations, and in doing so, by the turn of the 20th century a more lighthearted approach to the holiday was adapted.

Today, millions of children and adults celebrate Halloween worldwide, and in light of that several non-profit organizations, including Safe Kids Worldwide, have issued safety tips for a fun night of tricks and treats as listed below:

. Cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks.

. Look left, right, and left again when crossing and keep looking as you cross.

. Put electronic devices down and keep heads up and walk, don’t run, across the street.

. Teach children to make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them.

. Always walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible. Children should walk on direct routes with the fewest street crossings.

. Watch for cars that are turning or backing up. Teach children to never dart out into the street or cross between parked cars.

. Children under the age of 12 should not be alone at night without adult supervision. If kids are mature enough to be out without supervision, they should stick to familiar areas that are well lit and trick-or-treat in groups.

. Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and, if possible, choose light colors.

. Choose face paint and makeup whenever possible instead of masks, which can obstruct a child’s vision.

. Have kids carry glow sticks or flashlights to help them see and be seen by drivers.

. When selecting a costume, make sure it is the right size to prevent trips and falls.

. Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods. Children are excited on Halloween and may move in unpredictable ways.

. Take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians, and on curbs.

. Enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully.

. Eliminate any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.

. Drive slowly, anticipate heavy pedestrian traffic, and turn your headlights on earlier in the day.

. Popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30-9:30 p.m., so be especially alert for kids during those hours.

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