Smaller Safe Treats seen for Old Town Halloween

       Record numbers of close to 4,000 people (mostly kids in costumes) have flocked to Old Colorado City for free candy each of the last two Halloweens. Lori Kasten, who has organized the “Safe Treats” event with her mother Judy and other volunteers for the past 25 years, thinks the numbers will be lower this year.
       The main reason is that it's finally not on a weekend. After falling on a Saturday and Sunday in '09 and '10, this year Halloween (Oct. 31) will be on a Monday, which is not only a weekday, but a day when more than the usual number of businesses typically close. And while it's true that many merchants support Safe Treats - some who will be closed are even buying candy and asking the Kastens to hand it out for them - a few have chafed at the bigger crowds in recent years, which has required added candy purchases and total costs in some cases of $100 or more.
       “We've had to scale it back,” Lori Kasten said. “But that's OK: It never was designed to be citywide. It was just supposed to be a nice little Westside thing.”
       Another traditional draw for attendees has been the costume contest, in which volunteer judges would pick cash-prize winners in different age categories. But the contest had to be scrapped this year because of reduced donations for the privately funded event. “It will be sad not to have a costume contest, but it was the most expensive part of the event,” she said.
       Still, Kasten doesn't want to leave the impression that nothing is happening but trick-or-treating. The central activity point will again be the Old Town Plaza parking lot at 25th and Colorado, where she said cake walks will be held “every 7 to 10 minutes” and there will also be a magician and a “Simon says” area.
       Coronado High School will be back with student volunteers (“50 or more,” Kasten said) to hand out candy and help direct traffic with stop paddles that she provides them. A fire truck has been invited again. And mascots from the area (including Smokey the Bear, Sox the Fox and Herkimer Hawk from Holmes Middle School) will be cavorting about.
       The name, “Safe Treats,” is not taken lightly, Kasten noted. In addition to the high schoolers directing traffic, police officers will be present at each of the main intersections. “Safety is my main priority,” she said. “That's what it's all about, having a safe Halloween that's fun for the kids.”

Westside Pioneer article