10/30/09 — Weekend holiday plus extra hour reason for caution, officials advise

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Weekend holiday plus extra hour reason for caution, officials advise

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on October 30, 2009 1:46 PM

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Matthew Dreyer, 4, puts on a mean face in his Hulk Halloween costume during a Wee Wings fall festival event Thursday. Elsewhere around the county, local law enforcement officers are ready for this weekend's scary festivities in case they get too rowdy, they say.

Halloween falls on a weekend this year -- a weekend that might mean later closing times for bars within Wayne County's various city limits.

Because Halloween is on a Saturday -- the day before clocks "fall back" one hour -- alcohol-serving establishments might choose to stay open one hour later, Sheriff Carey Winders said.

"We haven't heard, or have any confirmation that bars will stay open longer, night clubs or whatever," the sheriff said. "But they could actually turn back the clock at (midnight), giving (bar and club patrons) one more hour."

Wayne County is a "dry county" meaning that only cities and towns inside it may choose to allow beer sales, bars and night clubs.

The sheriff said he and his staff worry most about the after-effects of an extra hour of drinking, as people head home from within city limits to their homes in unincorporated areas of the county.

There are other worries, too, Winders said, particularly because Halloween falls on a Saturday this year.

Halloween mischief sometimes intensifies when trick-or-treaters don't have school the next day, the sheriff said.

"We don't expect any problems, but Halloween is on a Saturday night," Winders said. "We just want to prepare in case of any vandalism."

The sheriff said he always boosts manpower on Hallo-ween night, for a number of reasons, including excitable children, heavier traffic and other potential problems.

"We're going to have an additional 10 to 12 deputies out working that night," Winders said. "That's like having three (normal) shifts out at once."

Brandy Jones, who coordinates the School Resource Officer program for the Sheriff's Office, also sent out a number of Halloween tips.

Among them:

*Watch for children who may dart out from between parked cars, or into roadways, medians or curbs. Enter and exit driveways and alleys carefully. Watch for children in dark clothing, especially at night.

*If a parent cannot be at the side of his or her trick-or-treaters, make sure a responsible adult or teen is supervising.

*Plan a route. If there is any trouble, you may know where to start looking for your own children.

Although missing children are a rare event, the sheriff said he always prepares for the possibility on the holiday.

"That's always in the back of your mind -- a child abduction. Or even a child that has walked away from the crowd and has gone missing," Winders said. "Teach your children to stay with the group."

*Tell your children to never enter a stranger's home. Only stop at houses where lights are on and people are clearly participating in Halloween.

*Plan a "return time" with your children. That way, you will know when to expect your trick-or-treaters to return.

*Masks can obstruct a child's vision, especially "peri-pheral" or side-to-side vision. Facial make-up is a better choice, law enforcers say.

*Accessories can make trouble. Swords, knives and other costume ornaments should be made of cardboard or other flexible materials to prevent accidents.

*Tell children not to eat candy which parents have not inspected. Although candy tampering is also a rarity, law enforcement still advises parents to inspect each and every piece of candy. An early meal can help children avoid sweet temptations, Winders said. Also, follow the rule, "When in doubt, throw it out."

"Anything without a wrapper, discard it," Winders said. "Anything that looks suspicious at all, discard it."