WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Villages, towns, hamlets and cities across Westchester County are being visited by ghouls, goblins, witches, super heroes with local parades and other activities leading up to Thursday Halloween and Trick-or-Treat on Oct. 31.
The last two Halloweens in Westchester have brought weather horrors with an out-of-season snowstorm in 2011 and Super Storm Sandy last year that curtailed the Trick-or-Treat plans of thousands of kids.
So - beware!
Kathleen Antonelli of Yonkers said an ounce of prevention is the best way to enjoy the holiday while protecting the kids on Halloween. She said despite last year's storm, Halloween went off well in her Westchester Hills neighborhood.
"I still walked around with my kids last year, ages 10 and 13," Antonelli said. "Although they are getting to that age where they don't want me around, I casually lagged behind them for safety precautions whether they liked it or not."
According to National Retail Federation estimates, the haunting holiday is second behind Christmas with Americans spending nearly $ 8 billion on candy, costumes, parties, decorations and celebrations in 2012. A record 170 million people celebrated Halloween last year with 7 in 10 Americans (71.5%) taking part in the festivities.
Many local police departments add extra officers to the duty list on Halloween to handle any possible added problems with youngsters walking around after dark.
"We do add officers for Halloween to help keep things safe," Hastings Police Chief David Bloomer said. "And we expect parents to supervise their children."
Antonelli advises parents to be vigilant and responsible.
"My tip is to go with your children no matter what their age because you just don't know what can happen on Halloween or any other given day," she said. "My daughter, age 14 now, still plans on going trick or treating this year. I say let them be kids for as long as possible. They are growing up way too soon in this day and age."
For those who want Halloween without the tricks and treat of knocking on doors, there are several haunted houses and other spooky attractions, including "Jay Ghoul's House of Curiousities" in Tarrytown (Lyndhurst at 635 South Broadway) and "Scared By the Sound" in Cortlandt at 235 Crompound Road (Route 202).
The Westchester County Government website offers these tips for a safe, but fun-filled, Halloween.
- Use flashlights as alternatives to candles or torch lights when decorating walkways and yards.
- Costumes, masks, beards and wigs should be of flame resistant fabrics such as nylon or polyester and look for the label "Flame Resistant."
- Costumes should be light, bright and clearly visible to motorists
- For greater visibility during dusk and darkness, decorate or trim costumes with reflective tape that will glow in the beam of a car's headlights.
- Bags or sacks should be light colored or decorated with reflective tape. This tape is usually available in hardware, bicycle and sporting goods stores
- If your child wears a mask, make sure it fits securely, provides adequate ventilation, and has eye holes large enough to allow full vision.
- Think twice before using simulated knives, guns or swords. If such props must be used, be certain they do not appear authentic and that they are made of soft, flexible material.
- Trick-or-treaters should stay within their own neighborhoods with younger children should be accompanied by an adult.
- Openly discuss with children appropriate and inappropriate behavior at Halloween time.
- Children should carry change or cell phone to call home. Instruct them in the proper use of 911.
- Children should trick-or-treat only to houses with the outside lights on and to apartment buildings that are brightly lit.
- Set a time for older children to return home.
- Children should not go inside the homes or apartments of strangers.
- Warn children not to eat treats before an adult has examined them for evidence of tampering.