Stories of destruction and vandalism on Halloween weekend moved from coffee shop lore to the official city council minutes of Monday night’s meeting as council members considered options for next year’s celebration.
“Trick-or-treat traditionally starts for the young kids at about 5:30 p.m.,” Peabody Police Chief Bruce Burke said. “It ends about 8 or 8:30 p.m. and that is when the trouble starts. This year it went on for hours and we had kids out way after curfew.
“It seems to be getting worse and next year Halloween will be on a Sunday, involving another three-day weekend. I would like for council to consider a special curfew. I’d like to see everyone off the street and at home by 8:30 p.m. — especially everyone younger than 21,” he said.
“It’s too bad, but a few kids end up spoiling it for everyone.”
Most of the council members and visitors in attendance had comments about the vandalism and complaints.
“Let’s face it,” Councilman Tom Schmidt said, “if anyone is out after 8:30 p.m. they aren’t trick-or-treating. What are they doing? Things they shouldn’t be doing.”
Burke noted there were 31 incidents involving stolen or smashed pumpkins, several houses and the high school were “egged,” and holiday decorations were trashed and destroyed.
Council members discussed having a Trick-or-Treat Street or an event in a parking lot where people park their cars, open their trunks, and pass out candy to youngsters in costume.
“If we do that, would we do away with traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating?” Mayor Larry Larsen asked.
Burke told the council that would be something they would have to determine.
“My suggestion would be that you folks be thinking about this and we will address it in the summer when we make additions to the Standard Traffic Ordinances and the Uniform Offense Code Ordinance,” Burke said. “In the meantime, we can look at what other communities do and find out how your constituents feel about a special curfew.”
Later in the meeting, vandalism and problems downtown around the HUB, a youth center, were discussed. Council members agreed that the problems there are escalating as well.
“The problem there is that no one is held accountable,” Schmidt said. “There are no consequences for bad behavior.”
Burke told the council that he and his officers would make a more concentrated effort to pick up curfew violators.
“Some of those kids probably are just plain not supposed to be out. We’ll step up our presence down there,” he said. “We have talked about bringing them here to the city building and having their parents come pick them up.”
The council made no decision about a special Halloween curfew or curtailing problems at the HUB.