Not easy to cut back on Old Town’s ‘Safe Treats’

       After getting close to 4,000 kids each of the past two years, “Safe Treats” organizer Lori Kasten said she's not promoting the free Old Colorado City Halloween candy giveaway/costume contest quite as much this year, nor will it last as long (2 to 4:30 p.m. instead of last year's 2 to 5)
       “I always want to boost the Westside, but I also know our little four-block area can't handle the whole city,” she said. “I don't want to put a burden on the merchants.”
       Nevertheless, Halloween is on a Sunday this year, meaning lots of kids out of school; plus, Kasten doesn't know of any other shopping areas with Oct. 31 events similar to Old Town's, in which costumed kids are welcome to roam from shop to shop and ask for candy. There is also the carryover from recent Halloweens - especially 2008, when the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) business group, which was then the sponsor - promoted it aggressively as a city-wide event.
       But the OCCA has not sponsored Safe Treats since then. This year, the Bank of Broadmoor and Kasten Accounting are donating close to $2,000 each to offer activities and to manage the crowd, Kasten explained.
       A big part of the expense covers a police officer in each block, who will help with traffic. Pedestrian safety will also be aided by students from Coronado High School (Student Council and Future Business Leaders of America). Out of a total of 45 students who've pledged to come, 16 will serve as crossing guards “to make sure the kids are watching out at the intersections,” Kasten said.
       Students will also help out by setting 600 balloons onto the avenue and standing in strategic areas along the street to hand out candy or pencils, she said.
       Other activities will include the appearance of 10 or so area business mascots, such as Sox the Fox, Smoky the Bear and the Texas Roadhouse Armadillo.
       Some merchants close during the event, but most appear to see it as a marketing opportunity, even though the cost of candy per store has been estimated at $200 or more.
       “The event has just gotten big over the years,” said Kasten, who is in her 17th year of coordinating it. “People love coming to the Westside.”
       For the second straight year, barring bad weather, the costume contest will be outdoors, in the Old Town Plaza parking lot at 25th Street and Colorado Avenue. People can have their costumes judged upon request. There are four age categories (0-3, 4-6, 7-9 and 10-13), with the winner in each receiving a $100 savings bond. Second gets $75, third $50. Awards will be announced at 4 p.m.
       New this year will be a cake walk. Event-goers will have a chance every 10 minutes to win one, Kasten said.
       Safe Treats is tied in with the climax of the Historic District Merchants of Old Colorado City's month-long Scarecrow Days. The 4 p.m. announcements will also reveal the winner of the HDM's October coloring contest. Until Oct. 31, the picture to be colored can be picked up at participating HDM stores.
       “It's coming together. I'm excited,” Kasten said. “It's all about the community and children for a couple of hours.”

Westside Pioneer article