A request from local officials that Barrow County parents observe Halloween trick-or-treating this year on Saturday, Oct. 30, instead of Oct. 31 continues to generate controversy.

On Sept. 30, Barrow County Sheriff Jud Smith, acting as the spokesperson for local mayors, police chiefs and county commissioners, issued a press release advising parents of the request.

Since issuing the release, Smith has received several phone calls and emails from parents opposed to the plan. Smith said one person even accused him of attempting to “ruin our national holiday.”

Smith has tried to reassure concerned citizens that the request is just that – a request. “It is not anything set in stone,” Smith said. “It was merely a recommendation.”

According to Smith, he and other local officials met and unanimously agreed that it would be better to observe Halloween on Saturday, Oct. 30.

“I met with every mayor. I met with every police chief or their agency. I met with all the public safety. I met with the chairman and we all agreed to make a recommendation,” Smith said. “Everybody in that room agreed that Saturday would be a better time.”

Though no particular safety concern prompted the decision, Smith said when Halloween falls on a Sunday, it is typically observed the day before or after.

For Smith, it does not matter when people choose to celebrate.

“Public safety will be out both nights,” he said.

Smith said his only concern is that children and their families will be safe no matter which night they chose to trick-or-treat.

“I’m not trying to ruin everybody’s fun,” he said. “We want everyone to be safe. We want the kids to enjoy themselves. We want the parents to enjoy themselves. As long as they’re safe, we’ve done what we needed to do. “ Though surprised by the controversy the request has generated, Smith said he is more than willing to take the heat.

“If this is the only problem Barrow County has, we’re in pretty good shape,” he said.

The Barrow County Sheriff’s Office reminds parents and children to observe the following trick-or-treating safety tips:

•Carry a flashlight or glow stick to increase visibility.

•Small children should always be accompanied by a parent or responsible adult.

•Older children should trick-or-treat in groups for greater safety.

•Never enter someone’s home without permission from parents.

•Do not eat any treats until a parent or responsible adult has inspected them.

•Walk only on sidewalks or the furthest edges of streets, against traffic flow.

•Cross streets only at intersections and not between parked cars.

•Approach only well-lit homes on a predetermined route.

•Attach reflective tape to treat bags for added visibility.

•Always walk, don’t run.

•Don’t cross through yards or alleys to get to the next house – use sidewalks.

•Make sure that masks are properly vented and do not obstruct visibility.

•Buy only flame retardant costumes or make a special homemade costume.

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