Family Matters

Boo. Hurricane Sandy Scuttles Halloween Plans

This year Halloween is nothing if not flexible

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This year, Halloween is nothing if not flexible. Storm-affected towns are doing their best to keep a soaked holiday still spooky.

Though much of the country that’s been unaffected by Superstorm Sandy will carry on with Wednesday’s trick-or-treating, Gloucester, Mass., recommended that residents preempt the storm and celebrate last weekend while Cherry Hill and Maplewood, N.J., will get ghoulish on Friday. Maple Shade, N.J., is shifting Halloween to Saturday. And Chagrin Falls, Ohio, outside Cleveland, where heavy winds downed trees hundreds of miles from the epicenter of Sandy’s wrath? They’re celebrating on Sunday.

In New Jersey, where many municipalities have already announced a date change, Gov. Chris Christie tweeted that he would “sign an Executive Order” rescheduling the holiday for the state should he decide on Wednesday that conditions are unsafe for trick or treating. Meanwhile, officials have already put the kibosh on two of New York City’s most anticipated Halloween festivities — the parade in Park Slope and the city’s largest celebration in Greenwich Village, billed as “the nation’s most wildly creative public participatory event in the greatest city in the world.” On Tuesday, the parade’s website announced: “For the first time in our 39 year history, the Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management and the NYPD have CANCELLED the Parade…Hallelujah Halloween!”

Neither event will be rescheduled, but some parents — unwilling to disappoint children who long ago meticulously selected their mermaid or Batman or princess personas — are taking matters into their own hands. They’re trick-or-treating indoors, holding scavenger hunts and gathering at friends’ houses to watch movies if it’s deemed too dangerous to haunt the streets.

(MORE: Storm Sandy Closed Schools, But Were Officials Too Eager to Cancel Class?)

“My friends buy $500 worth of candy because they know they have hundreds and hundreds of trick or treaters,” says Karen Connell, founder of the blog, A Child Grows in Brooklyn. “A lot of those people won’t come, of course. But kids are going crazy and they want to get out. And parents are looking for a way to create some levity for their kids during what’s been a very intense period.”

David Tipson, a father of two in Park Slope, is going it solo after his wife was stranded in New Orleans, a victim of New York City’s locked-down airports. This is the first year that his 3-year-old son has participated in picking his costume — he’s going to be a dragon — and Tipson didn’t have the heart to cancel on him. Tipson, his youthful dragon and the dragon’s 3-month-old brother (a pumpkin) will go door to door in a 10-story apartment building in Brooklyn.

Elsewhere in Park Slope, Serena Williams plans on taking her 3-year-old daughter — masquerading as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz — to a neighborhood party pulled together so that the kids can have an opportunity to wear their costumes. Then they’ll try their luck at any businesses that happen to be open.

Sandy’s impact stretched considerably west of the East Coast’s major storm surges as well. Julie Conrad, a mom of two in the Cleveland suburb of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, said much of northeast Ohio has rescheduled Halloween. Chagrin Falls will party on Sunday to give emergency workers ample time to restore power and clear downed trees. Conrad broke the news to her kids, who are 4 and 6. “I explained that we had a very big storm,” she says. “It’s a little odd to them, but they were fine.” At least they will get to celebrate Halloween.

In the areas hardest hit, some parents are too consumed with damage-control to fret over Halloween chaos. Emily Strigl, a mom of two boys in Maplewood, N.J., who has “two giant trees sitting on our house,” hasn’t even brought up the subject of trick-or-treating with her kids. “Everyone’s priorities have changed,” says Strigl. “They’re asking, When will the lights come back on? When will the sun come up? Halloween, Shmalloween. It’s the last thing on my mind right now.” And that may be the lasting legacy of Sandy on Halloween 2012 — more tricks and very few treats.

MORE: Lessons from Storm Sandy: When Hospital Generators Fail