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Unpromoted Safe Treats still likely to draw costumed crowd to Old Town Oct. 31

       The annual "Safe Treats" Halloween event will offer free candy to costumed youngsters in Old Colorado City Friday, Oct 31 from 2 to 4:30 p.m.
       Adding to the fun will be cake walks and games in the Old Town Plaza at Colorado Avenue and 25th Street, strolling mascots (such as Sox the Fox and the Texas Roadhouse's armadillo) and students from Coronado High's Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) handing out additional candy in areas between stores.
       In her 21st year as lead organizer, Lori Kasten is braced for a big turnout, with Friday being a no-school day in District 11. Safe Treats
Happy trick-or-treaters are shown in the 2400 block of Colorado Avenue in 2006.
Westside Pioneer file photo
always happens Oct. 31 and in 2008, the last time that was a no-school Friday, an estimated 3,500 people showed up.
       “I hope we're not slugged too hard,” she said in a recent interview. “We want to keep it low-key. But it could be a perfect storm, especially if it's a nice day.”
       Kasten hopes to help the situation by continuing the practice (started since 2008) of having the FBLA kids also serve as crossing guards at the affected intersections along Colorado Avenue between 24th and 27th streets.
       Another difference is the minimal amount of promotion. In 2008, the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) business group promoted the event citywide. Not any more. The OCCA still helps out by buying candy for participating merchants, but a decision was made - after huge crowds also in 2009 and 2010 - to back off from advertising and make it for just the Westside.
       The result has been some drop-off in attendance. The estimate last year was about 1,200. But traditionally the numbers get higher when Oct. 31 falls on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday, Kasten explained.
       The event has its critics. She said she hears from Old Colorado City merchants who don't like dealing with so many people - few of whom actually shop. But “even if we didn't put together all these things [such as the extra candy, mascots and plaza activities], “we'd still have trick-or-treaters.”
       The goal, Kasten said, is to make the people who come feel welcome, so they'll come back and shop another time.
       Typically, some stores close for Safe Treats, but most stay open, with owners or staff standing outside their front doors to hand out candy.
       The event's organization is all-volunteer, with several sponsors helping with costs. “Nobody gets paid, but we still love it,” Kasten said.
       Her own inspiration is seeing the pleasure of younger children, decked out in costumes, many home-made and creative. “Our event is always geared for the little ones,” she said.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 10/25/14; Business: Events)

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