OCC’s Safe Treats lures costumed capers

       Hundreds of strange-looking characters begging in Old Colorado City the afternoon of Wednesday, Oct. 31 will not be representative of the economy's “new normal.”
       It is believed in fact that all (or least nearly all) will be costumed trick-or-treaters, revelling in Old Town's annual Halloween giveaway known as Safe Treats from 2 to 4:30 p.m.
       “It's going to be a fun event,” said Lori Kasten, now in her 19th year as volunteer organizer. “As always, we want it to be a safe venue for families to come down here.”
       In keeping with tradition, kids will seek candy from storekeepers and/or designated sidewalk volunteers and join in games, a cakewalk and other opportunities for prizes in the Old Town Plaza at Colorado Avenue and 25th Street.
       A new wrinkle this year will be “golden tickets” - a la Willy Wonka - that will be hidden in some of the candy and gifts. “The tickets will congratulate the winners and inform them that they've won prizes from stores. This will bring all these people back, hopefully,” Kasten said. “The complaints we've gotten in the past are that people at Safe Treats don't come back. So maybe they'll buy something. At least they'll see the insides of the shops.”
       The event is funded by donations from various individuals and businesses, with the Bank at Broadmoor the major contributor, Kasten said.
       But with increasing costs, tight funds and concerns that the event was getting too big, Safe Treats has been intentionally reduced in size. Gone (for the second straight year) are the costume contests that once offered cash prizes. Also, Kasten pointed out that again this year she has not bought paid advertisting with any media.
       “Smaller events are more personable,” she said.
       Returning among the volunteers will be student volunteers from Coronado High's Student Council and Future Business Leaders of America club. The students (about 45 in all) will be stationed on the sidewalks, at stores whose merchants asked for help and at 16 street corners, where they will help out as crossing guards.

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