Halloween in Cleveland

Cleveland residents have a long and rich history of celebrating Halloween and enjoying it's festive traditions including haunted houses, pumpkin carving, attending church and trick-or-treating. Halloween is a religious-based holiday (also known as All Hallows' Eve) annually celebrated on October 31st. However this past Halloween (2012) Cleveland city officials told residents to cancel their Halloween due to weather and "unknown" downed power lines as a result of hurricane Sandy.

Hurricane Sandy made landfall on the US Eastern seaboard October 29, 2012.

FirstEnergy spokesperson Jennifer Young said all of the known hazards in the City of Cleveland would be fixed by Friday night (November 2nd).

Some Cleveland residents have reported that 1st District Police told them that they can't trick-or-treat until November 3rd. and that they need to go to local recreation centers for their Halloween celebration. Other reports indicate that Cleveland police are telling residents there will be no Halloween this year.

The Problem

City officials are telling residents to cancel and/or postpone their Halloween events due to weather conditions or potentially downed power lines. However, public schools remain open. So apparently it's safe enough for students to walk to school, but not to go outside for holiday (Halloween) celebrations. Huh?

Other Reports:

The city of Cleveland Heights decided to move trick-or-treating from Wednesday, Halloween night to Sunday, Nov. 4, due to the bad weather conditions "predicted" for Wednesday. "We don't want to put any children or families or safety forces in harms way," said Mayor Ed Kelley. "The forecast for Sunday calls for a 20 percent chance of showers during the day but mostly cloudy by the evening and temperatures in the upper 30s to mid 40s." reported by ClevelandHeightsPatch.

Several other cities, including Beachwood, Solon, Lakewood, Parma and Mentor, moved their trick-or-treat nights as well.

Since when does a 20 percent chance of light rain constitute a "hazardous" condition during the day? If the weather is apparently so hazardous, why are Officials keeping the public schools open and at the same time telling parents not to celebrate Halloween?

The Solution

Parents and neighborhood residents need to take responsibility themselves and canvas neighborhoods for downed power lines or any other hazardous obstacle. Parents and residents are under NO legal obligation to follow city Officials. City's have no authority to govern Halloween, move Halloween event dates, tell residents what times they can celebrate those events (such as Trick-or-Treating), or in any way obstruct the events of a Halloween celebration.

A letter from the ACLU:

"Neither Halloween nor any other event is subject to the dictates of a government that wants to tell people when they can visit their neighbors and when they can serve treats to children," said Marjorie R. Esman, ACLU of Louisiana Executive Director. "No parent should fear jail time for taking children to a neighbor's house for candy, and no resident should fear prosecution for offering a treat to a visiting child."

Halloween is part of an ancient religious tradition that includes Celtic and Christian elements. Tied to the celebration of the dead and respect for their souls, it is a religious celebration that cannot be rescheduled at the whim of government. "The free exercise of religion, mandated by both the U.S. [and Ohio] Constitutions, means that government cannot reschedule Christmas or any other religious holiday," continued Esman. "That includes Halloween, which falls on October 31 regardless of the day of the week."

If you believe your rights have been violated, if you have been harassed or threatened, if you have been ordered by police or other government officials to NOT celebrate Halloween (or any other religious-based holiday), then you need to file a complaint with your local American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

ACLU of Ohio
Executive Director: Christine Link
4506 Chester Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44103

Phone: 216-472-2200
Email: contact@acluohio.org
Web: http://www.acluohio.org