- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 24, 2001

Ghosts and goblins this year won't be trick-or-treating at several local malls, which have canceled Halloween events as customer concerns continue to mount over safety in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Fair Oaks Shopping Center in Fairfax has canceled its 15th annual Mall-O-Ween event, and Landmark Mall in Alexandria has eliminated the trick-or-treat activities it sponsors every year.
"Because of the mood in the country and the heightened level of concern, we believe this is the right decision," said Philip Morosco, general manager of Fair Oaks, which usually draws thousands of children and parents each year to its Mall-O-Ween.
Malls started organizing Halloween events years ago as a safe haven for young trick-or-treaters. But in light of the recent terrorist events, some shopping centers aren't taking any chances.
Mall officials are taking into consideration the mood of the country in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, as well as the possibility of candy tampering and even practical jokes.
But officials insist they are not canceling events because of a recent e-mail warning people to stay away from malls on Halloween. The FBI has determined the e-mail is not credible.
Landmark Mall's owner, General Growth Properties, cut out its property-sponsored trick-or-treat events at all of its centers.
"It's something we had been thinking about since Sept. 11," said David Keating, a spokesman for the Chicago-based developer. "We didn't think it was appropriate to hold these Halloween activities."
The Taubman Co., which owns Fair Oaks and Lakeforest Mall in Gaithersburg, has eliminated all trick-or-treating events that involve the distribution of candy or food. The centers are allowed to host other Halloween events and entertainment, according to Karen MacDonald, director of communications at Taubman.
Security is the top priority for shopping centers these days.
"Since September 11 security has been at a heightened state of alert," said Malachy Kavanagh, a spokesman for the International Council of Shopping Centers.
Malls have beefed up their security in a variety of ways, from adding more uniformed guards in the parking lots and inside the centers to tighter restrictions at loading docks, Mr. Kavanagh said.
With security on their minds, some shopping center operators are proceeding with their planned Halloween events.
"We are always concerned about security, but we're not changing our event plans," said Debbie Young, senior marketing director for Westfield Shoppingtowns Annapolis, Wheaton and Montgomery.
Ms. Young was aware of the recent e-mail hoax, but said some kind of "urban legend" surfaces every year warning people to stay away from malls on Halloween.
"There are probably some people who aren't aware that it's a hoax, so I think a few people might not come," Ms. Young said. "But I don't think it will [greatly] affect the events."
Westfield Shoppingtown Montgomery, for example, is still hosting its "Halloween Spooktacular," where children will trick-or-treat at participating stores from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday. Usually, the event at the former Montgomery Mall draws close to 1,000 children.
Tysons Corner Center is still allowing trick-or-treating from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., but security will be tighter with county police officers and a full staff of public-safety officers on duty, a spokeswoman said.
Despite not officially hosting a trick-or-treat party, Landmark Mall expects trick-or-treaters to come to the shopping center because the individual stores will pass out candy.
In addition, the annual Haunted House, sponsored by the Alexandria Jaycees, a local community organization, will be open.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide