Seventh-grader Samantha Bertolino was especially proud of her Halloween costume this year. She was going to be a vampire, and she really had it together this time: the black dress, the spider-web earrings, fake blood, white face paint, and some cool, sparkly clip-on nails.
But the costume will stay in the closet for a while: Samantha’s town of Ridgefield, Conn., has postponed Halloween due to the ravages of superstorm Sandy. The town is planning to reschedule, pending the success of cleanup efforts.
But it won’t be the same, Samantha says: “It’s kind of like trying to reschedule Christmas. You can’t really do that.”
From the wrath of nature to the wrath of young children: From Maryland to Kentucky to Maine, Halloween festivities were being canceled or postponed. And a debate emerged: Should we be celebrating, anyway, in the face of the devastation? Or is celebrating just the right thing to do for antsy kids who’ve been cooped up at home (and out of school) for days?
Perhaps the most high-profile postponement was that of New York’s huge parade in Greenwich Village, with its outlandish floats and millions of revelers, mainly adults. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city’s police were simply too taxed with Sandy’s aftermath. (Trick-or- treating, the mayor said, could go ahead as long as caution and good judgment were used.)
It was the first time the parade had been canceled in its 39-year history, said Jeanne Fleming, who has directed the event for 32 of those years, including this one. (Also being canceled was a much-loved parade in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn.)
“We went on right after 9/11,” said Fleming. “It was a wonderful affirmation of New York’s spirit.” Still, she added, she understood the factors that went into Bloomberg’s decision.
“Even after 9/11, people had electricity, the subways were running,” she said. “And I do wonder if it would have been the right thing for the people of Greenwich Village.” Much of lower Manhattan below 39th Street still is plunged in darkness.
Fleming was spending Wednesday in discussions about a possible new date next week; options mentioned were Nov. 7 and Nov. 8, she said, which presented another complication: “I can imagine people staying up all night watching election returns, and then having a parade,” she noted.
Speaking of the election, President Barack Obama and wife Michelle also were changing plans, breaking their three-year tradition of passing out sweets to area students and military children in the White House driveway.
The White House said the hundreds of treat bags, each containing a box of White House M&Ms, a pumpkin-shaped sugar cookie, jelly beans and some dried fruit, would be delivered to the White House Military Office and D.C., Maryland and Virginia school districts.
For some communities, the rescheduling compounded past disappointments. In Ridgefield, Halloween was postponed last year, too, due to an early snowstorm that brought down trees and caused widespread power outages. As was trick-or-treating in Londonderry, N.H., which also rescheduled this year.
“They were very sad,” said Cheryl Hass, a Londonderry mom, of her daughters, age 8 and 10. “Once you explain why, they understand, but they’re still disappointed.”
Since dates for a rescheduled Halloween varied by city, county or town, some parents were mollifying their kids by promising dual (or triple) celebrations.
In New Jersey, which sustained much damage, Gov. Chris Christie postponed Halloween until next Monday — though not all towns were necessarily keeping to that schedule. One building, a condo in the flooded city of Hoboken, was getting in a little early celebrating — at 1 p.m. Wednesday.
Some towns offered alternatives to trick-or-treating. The well-known aquarium in Mystic, Conn., offered families without power at home the chance to trick-or-treat among the beluga whales, penguins and sharks.
And the city of Brunswick, Ohio, south of Cleveland, was having a free indoor “Frankenstorm Party” at the local recreation center, to complement trick-or-treating outside.