From Fear to Fun, Detroit Shifts Halloween Focus

Planned events include candy giveaways at fire departments and police precincts.

Planned events include candy giveaways at fire departments and police precincts. Shutterstock

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

The city is discontinuing its anti-arson patrols in favor of community- and kid-friendly Halloween events.

After more than two decades of using organized citizen patrols to prevent Halloween-related arson, officials in Detroit are shifting their focus to make the spooky holiday more about fun for kids.

“We made a promise to Detroit’s children that from now on, Halloween is going to be for them,” Mayor Mike Duggan said in a news release promoting the new initiative, dubbed “Halloween in the D.” “Halloween in the D will be the start of a very special new tradition in our city, something all Detroiters will be proud to say is especially their own.”

The now-disbanded patrols, dubbed “Angels’ Night,” were started in 1995 after hundreds of fires blazed in the city the previous year on “Devil’s Night,” the eve of Halloween. More than 300 teenagers were arrested in 1994 for violating a city-wide curfew intended to prevent Halloween-related mischief, the New York Times reported.

"This goes back to one of our worst nights since I have been on the job," then-Fire Chief Archie Warde told the Times.

Angels’ Night, typically stretching from Oct. 29 to Oct. 31, called on Detroit residents to volunteer to “patrol city streets, turn on their porch lights and watch over their neighborhoods,” according to an archived city website.

Arson decreased from year to year as the campaign gained momentum. Recently, fires during the three-day stretch went from 97 in 2014 to 54 in 2017—“essentially no different than any other three-day period in the city,” according to the city’s website. As crime decreased, Angels’ Night morphed into “more of a festive, community-building event,” the Detroit Free Press reported.

“Halloween in the D,” kicking off Oct. 29, turns that spirit into official city policy. Rather than coordinating neighborhood patrols, city officials are “encouraging residents to volunteer to support efforts to provide fun activities for youth in Detroit.”

"The mayor, along with a lot of other people, wanted to see more emphasis on fun activities for children," Erinn Harris, manager of Detroit's District 3 and chair of Halloween in the D, told Route Fifty. "Angels' Night really didn't do that. It focused more on patrolling and anti-arson, and we wanted to focus more on the children."

City officials have ramped up events for children in the past few years, implementing "trunk-or-treat" at every police precinct and debuting a small haunted park on the west side last year. Halloween in the D goes much further, with dozens of scheduled events including candy giveaways at fire departments, large-scale haunted parks (themes include a haunted locker room, zombie ruins and a creepy carnival) and activities for kids, teens and seniors (costume parties, a pumpkin plunge and crazy hat bingo, among others) at recreation centers throughout the city.

Citizens who still wish to patrol during Halloween are encouraged to join existing year-round neighborhood radio patrols, which help police keep tabs on different areas of the city. Residents can also volunteer by decorating their car for “trunk-or-treat” events at police stations or by donating candy at precincts or recreation centers.

There's little concern that disbanding the official patrols will lead to increased arson around the Halloween holiday, partially because of the number of abandoned structures—roughly 15,000—that have been demolished within city limits in the past few years, limiting targets for would-be fire-starters, Harris said.

"I don't think there’s any concern that there will be a spike," she said. "We just believe it will be a normal fire day, so we don't believe it's going to be any more during that time period than it would be during the rest of the year."

In a letter to potential sponsors, Duggan praised the progress made by Angels’ Night and highlighted the change in city policy.

“Over the last 30 years, the city of Detroit has solicited donations and recruited volunteers for our traditional anti-arson campaign, Angels' Night. This year marks a major shift in our focus,” he wrote. “From now on, Halloween in Detroit isn’t going to be about fear, it’s going to be about fun.”

Kate Elizabeth Queram is a Staff Correspondent for Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

NEXT STORY: N.Y. Attorney General Sues ExxonMobil

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.