xx Friday, October 29, 1999

Halloween moved

School, church, daylight-saving time inspire changes

Public Pulse

When should we celebrate Halloween?
Oct. 31
Last Saturday of October
Don't care
 With Halloween falling on a Sunday this year, many communities are holding trick-or-treating on Saturday night instead, in some cases because they don't want youngsters dressing up as demons on the Lord's day.

 Some communities cite the conflict with the Sabbath. Others note that Sunday is a school night or that daylight-saving time ends at 2 a.m. Sunday, meaning darkness will fall an hour earlier than on Saturday.

 "We already have Sunday observed for someone," said Kenny Clemons, mayor of Gardendale, Ala., who is urging residents to mark the holiday Saturday. "That's the Lord's day."

 In Salt Lake City, celebrations haven't been officially banned on Sunday, though the Mormon Church is asking people to pick another day.

 In a city where more than 70 percent of the population is Mormon, that doesn't leave much choice, according to Stephanie Homaechevarria. When she tried to take her children trick-or-treating in 1993, the last time Halloween fell on Sunday, she and her 3-year-old were snubbed.

 "Out of 10 houses, only one would open their door to us," Ms. Homaechevarria said.

 Confusion reigns in Arizona, where officials in Mesa, Scottsdale, Gilbert and Fountain Hills have gotten calls seeking guidance.

 "I guess there's a lot of conflict because of people's religious holidays," said Amy Silverman, Fountain Hills youth and teen services coordinator. "Or people like to go to church on Sunday and they don't like to go trick or treating."

 The Chicago suburb of Harvey moved trick-or-treating to Saturday, as did the Missouri towns of Fayette and Boonville, and Noblesville, Ind., near Indianapolis. Birmingham and Huntsville, Ala., also prefer Saturday.

 Other cities are deciding not to even get involved. Vestavia Hills, Ala., Mayor Pat Reynolds learned his lesson when he moved the holiday to Saturday six years ago. "It was utter chaos," he said. "I got chewed up one side and down the other. This time, I'm staying out of it."

 The confusion is fine with some trick-or-treaters.

 Nine-year-old Michael Nichols of Marietta, Ga., figures he will get extra use from his Star Wars costume. On Saturday, he will hit a church event. Then, he said, "I'll go around the neighborhood Sunday."