Sunday, October 31, 2004

Area law-enforcement officials and concerned residents tried to make safety awareness a bigger part of this year’s Halloween festivities.

“Walking is four times as deadly on Oct. 31 than any other time of the year,” said Bethesda resident Pam Miller, who launched a campaign to keep pedestrians safe this year by distributing 1,500 yard signs cautioning drivers and pedestrians to be careful. “Someone is not doing something right, and it is probably us.”

When Mrs. Miller’s daughter was involved in a car accident in front of their home, she realized how far simply being alert could go in keeping people safe. By distributing the signs and safety tips to communities throughout Montgomery County, Mrs. Miller hoped to help everyone stay as safe as possible.

Firefighter R.J. Evans Jr. went all out for Halloween by decorating his yard with tombstones, cobwebs, a little dry ice for effect — and one of the signs from Mrs. Miller’s campaign.

“Now this is what I call a Halloween house,” said 11-year-old Phillip Gayle, dressed as Zorro, as he walked up to the house at 12933 Beethoven Blvd. in Silver Spring.

The neighbors here have been especially concerned about traffic safety, and the blue and white sign that said “Drive with care, walk with caution” was prominent among the Halloween decorations in Mr. Evans’ yard.

“We’re very concerned about the buses that come through this neighborhood,” said Gina Lowe, a mother who lives in the neighborhood. She was trick-or-treating last night with her son, Nate, 12.

In other parts of Washington, Halloween activities started a little early.

Georgetown, known for its large crowds of Halloween revelers, saw plenty of people out on Saturday night in costumes, visiting bars and clubs.

Police enforced parking restrictions throughout Northwest Washington over the weekend and stepped up street patrols across the city.

Not everyone in the area was interested in celebrating Halloween in the traditional way. Instead of condoning trick-or-treat activities and ghoulish costumes, Reston Bible Church hosted a “trunk-or-treat” in its parking lot.

Church members were asked to sponsor a parking spot, bring their decorated car and hand out goodies from their trunks. Children from the community and the church were invited to use the parking lot “trunk-or-treat” as a safe alternative to walking through neighborhoods.

“It’s one of the few ways we have to reach out to the neighborhood,” said Mike Myers, director of the children’s ministry at the church. “It’s also sort of a safe alternative for the families [in the church] because they know everybody, instead of the kids going out to random houses where they don’t know anybody.”

In addition, each visitor received a trick-or-treat bag with Gospel tracts and an invitation to attend the church.

“It’s just a chance for the kids to be able to meet the people of the church,” Mr. Myers said.

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