By ERIN ROLL
Trick-or-treaters will be going door-to-door after school on Tuesday.
But Montclair Avenue, a popular street, will not get the street closing that its residents had requested from the Township Council, so residents are urging visiting trick-or-treaters and their families to be careful.
On Tuesday, Oct. 24, the council turned down a request to close Montclair Avenue off to vehicular traffic on Halloween.
The street, with many of its houses decked out for Halloween, and with one house in particular known for giving out books to trick-or-treaters, has become a popular destination for trick-or-treaters.
Residents have petitioned for three years to have Montclair Avenue closed off to accommodate the crowds on foot.
Ari Laura Kreith, who lives on Montclair Avenue, said on Saturday that there was a misconception among the general public that the street holds an official, planned trick-or-treating event. But the street has simply become very popular.
“It’s a very free-form public event. So we do kind of feel responsible for these kids who are coming to Montclair Avenue,” Kreith said.
A suggestion that parents could try to direct traffic was turned down; Kreith said that only police officers are allowed to direct traffic because of liability issues.
There had been a suggestion that Montclair Avenue residents could start a GoFundMe campaign next year to hire a private security firm to direct traffic. But Kreith said that idea doesn’t sit well with her neighbors. “We’re not trying to create a private event. We’re trying to make a public one safer.”
“It’s frustrating, because I understand the issues [the township is] facing,” Helen Torris said on Friday.
She said that people on the street were generally disappointed with the council’s decision, but that all the houses would be ready to give out candy on Tuesday night.
Torris added that next year, the neighborhood will start working with the town and the police earlier to work out a safety plan for the street.
A petition on iPetitions.com, which had at least 300 signatures at the time of the council meeting, called for the street to be blocked off to vehicular traffic during trick-or-treating hours.
In response, the township said that it wasn’t able to spare any police officers to direct traffic near Montclair Avenue, noting that Halloween and Mischief Night are two of the busiest nights of the year for the police in Montclair.
“When there’s cars parked on both sides of the street, it’s hard to get two cars down the middle of the street,” Torris said. More than once, she said, cars were parked in her family’s driveway or in front of a fire hydrant.
Also, many children walk in the streets, because there isn’t enough room on the sidewalks.
“It’s chaotic, but it’s fun chaotic,” Torris said. “We don’t want it to be tragic chaotic.”
Kreith said she encourages families who live near Montclair Avenue to walk rather than drive, and families who drive in from other neighborhoods to park their cars elsewhere and walk the rest of the way.
Kreith also urges families to keep an eye on one another’s children, bring flashlights and put reflector tape on their children’s costumes if the costume is dark-colored.