A year ago, Meadville City Council members did the unthinkable, voting 3-2 to hold the annual trick-or-treating associated with Halloween on, of all dates, Oct. 31.

On Wednesday, council will have a chance to either put an end to this travesty or perpetuate this turn away from tradition when it votes on a trick-or-treat time for 2021.

For generations, trick-or-treating in the city was held on the Thursday before the annual Meadville Halloween Parade, which always occurs on the Saturday on or just before Oct. 31. That Thursday also conveniently comes immediately before an off-day for Crawford Central School District students, and the timing was typically followed by nearly all of the surrounding municipalities.

While the timing worked well for school and city officials and parade planners, it meant that costumed dwellers grew up never engaging in any officially sanctioned trick-or-treating in Meadville on the actual day of Halloween — even when the holiday fell on a Thursday, the traditional day for trick-or-treating in the city.

In fact, costumed candy collection activities sometimes took place as early as Oct. 24. That’s what happened in 2019, when Halloween fell on a Thursday and the parade was scheduled for Oct. 26. Council members considered rescheduling trick-or-treating on Oct. 31, after the parade, that year, but instead voted unanimously to hold it a week beforehand.

The traditional timing of trick-or-treating changed last year when the pandemic-related cancellation of the parade offered an opportunity to hold trick-or-treating on Halloween, which fell on a Saturday in 2020.

Under the traditional scheme, trick-or-treating would take place on Thursday, Oct. 28, this year, two days before the 54th annual Meadville Halloween Parade on Oct. 30. Council could also opt to stick with trick-or-treating on Oct. 31, the Sunday after kids from around the area attend or march in the parade.

In Titusville, where trick-or-treating was previously held on the final Thursday in October, City Council recently voted to begin holding the activity on Oct. 31 regardless of what day of the week Halloween falls on, according to a report from The Titusville Herald.

When the issue came up in Meadville last year, some council members predicted the rescheduling of trick-or-treating would not be permanent. Councilman Jim Roha, who opposed the change, suggested that with the parade likely to be back on this year, council would end up changing the timing two years in a row.

Mayor LeRoy Stearns, who supported the change in 2020, pointed to the timing of Halloween this year.

“I know next year we’re going to have to change it because the 31st is on a Sunday,” he said.

In addition to trick-or-treat night, council will also consider a public engagement plan for its consideration of the home rule charter adoption process. A draft ordinance that would reduce penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana is also on the agenda, as is discussion of a proposed sign to honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Mike Crowley can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at mcrowley@meadvilletribune.com.

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