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There was a downpour of hand-wringing as anxious Columbus parents waited to find out whether city officials would join other communities and postpone Halloween trick or treating until Friday.
A day earlier, when people were hearing about today’s forecast for cooler temperatures, high winds and rain, the city had said that trick or treating would be on Halloween night rain or shine.
But Mayor Kristen Brown said Wednesday afternoon that she decided to postpone the observance after hearing overwhelming public sentiment for the change.
Trick or treating in Columbus now will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday.
Brown’s decision came after several other communities — including Hope, Clifford, Taylorsville and North Vernon — already had changed their trick-or-treating hours to Friday.
Hope was the first community in Bartholomew County to do that.
“We didn’t want to see children rushing around trying to get candy before the bad weather hits,” said Matt Tallent, Hope’s interim town marshal.
But Brown, along with public safety officials, wanted to be sure of the latest weather developments before announcing the change, city spokesman Chris Schilling said.
“Our kids are excited to wear their costumes and go out trick or treating, and we want to afford them the opportunity to do so safely,” Brown said in a news release.
Brown and Columbus Fire Department firefighters will hand out Halloween treats during Friday’s trick-or-treat hours. Firefighters from all six city fire stations will have crews and equipment in nearby neighborhoods.
Once Columbus announced its decision, other municipal officials announced they would follow the city’s lead. Officials from Jonesville, Elizabethtown, Edinburgh and Hartsville in Bartholomew County, as well as Seymour in Jackson County, announced midafternoon Wednesday that their respective communities had moved trick-or-treating hours to Friday.
A warm front that began moving north across central Indiana on Wednesday afternoon is responsible for the threat of severe Halloween thunderstorms, said meteorologist Mike Ryan with the National Weather Service in Indianapolis.
From a meteorological perspective, the primary threat to children is damaging wind expected to reach gusts in excess of 40 mph, as well as a possibility of isolated tornadoes, Ryan said. He said lightning also should be considered a threat from any thunderstorm.
Columbus also could receive more than 1.5 inches of rain today, Bartholomew County Emergency Management Director Dennis Moats said. Heavy rainfall frequently causes both drivers and excitable children to react unpredictably, he said.
Both motorists on streets and children on sidewalks are known to avoid large pools of water, Moats said. Combined with the rainfall and darkened conditions that greatly limit visibility, heavy rain substantially increases the chances that a child might be struck, Moats said.
Another health concern expressed by Columbus grandmother Gina Lucas is kids catching cold from being out in the elements. However, Indiana Department of Health spokesman Ken Severson said colds and flu germs are mostly passed from one person to another.
While Friday is expected to bring sunshine and temperatures in the 60s, a switch of trick-or-treating hours presents its own set of complications, Bartholomew County Emergency Operations Center Director Ed Reuter said.
Many families and individuals already have committed to attending one of several Friday night events that include festivals, stage shows, church bazaars, concerts, sporting events and private parties.
Reuter said he’s heard from a number of adults who feel a sudden switch of trick or treating to Friday leaves them with an uncomfortable choice of disappointing their children or backing out of previous Friday commitments.
A sudden switch of days also frustrates many adults who are unsure of how much candy they should have on hand, Riverview Acres resident Rebecca Allmon said.
On the other hand, trick or treating in bad weather would disappoint children who don’t want to cover up their costumes with rain gear, Deborah Oliver said.
The Ogilville woman plans to bring her two 4-year-old grandchildren to Columbus to trick or treat. The family has been working on the twins’ bumblebee costumes for several weeks, Oliver said.
However, Allmon said she is sure of one thing: If it’s storming, her 5-year-old daughter, Brookley, won’t be going outside for traditional trick or treating.
Lucas is in complete agreement.
“We all need to be focused on the health and well-being of the kids,” she said.
Updated trick-or-treat hours
Due to the threat of inclement weather through tonight, the following communities have rescheduled trick or treating to Friday during the following hours:
Columbus: 5 to 8 p.m.
Rural Bartholomew County: 5 to 8 p.m.
Hope: 6 to 8 p.m.
Edinburgh: 6 to 8 p.m.
Taylorsville: 6 to 8 p.m.
Clifford: 6 to 8 p.m.
Jonesville: 5 to 8 p.m
Hartsville: 6 to 8 p.m.
Elizabethtown: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
North Vernon: 5 to 8 p.m.
Nashville: 6 to 9 p.m.
Seymour: 6 to 8 p.m.
Brownstown: 6 to 8 p.m.
Medora: 6 to 8 p.m.
Crothersville: 6 to 8 p.m.
North Vernon: 6 to 8 p.m.
Scottsburg: 6 to 8 p.m.
Alternative Halloween-related events still scheduled for today include:
In-store trick or treating: FairOaks Mall, 2380 25th St., Columbus, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
In-store trick or treating: Edinburgh Premium Outlets, 11622 N.E. Executive Drive, Edinburgh, 5 to 8 p.m.
Free admission for children in costume: kidscommons, 309 Washington St., Columbus, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Alternative Halloween-related events rescheduled for Friday include:
“Trunk or Treat”: Central Heights Church of God, 3151 Sharon Lane, 5 to 8 p.m.
“Trunk or Treat”: First Baptist Church of Columbus, 3300 Fairlawn Drive, 6 to 7:30 p.m.
"Trunk or Treat": Flintwood Wesleyan Church, 5300 E. 25th St., 5 to 8 p.m.
“Sweet Street”: North Vernon city parking lot and the back parking lot of First Christian Church, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
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