WESTERLY — Forecasts of strong winds and possible downpours are causing a stir ahead of annual Halloween festivities.
Westerly police said Wednesday that all eyes are on the skies as stormy weather threatens to hit during the peak time for trick-or-treating on Thursday night. All activities, including the Downtown Halloween Candy Crawl from 4 to 6 p.m., were scheduled to be held as planned, but Police Chief Shawn Lacey said it depends on how bad the weather gets.
"As with anything, we want people to have a chance to enjoy, but it is important to put safety first," he said. "We certainly don't want to ruin the fun, but we do urge parents that if it is downpouring, consider making some alternative plans."
The National Weather Service is forecasting steady showers on Halloween, with the potential for torrential downpours and wind gusts in excess of 50 mph. Approximately half an inch of rain is expected during the evening storm.
The annual Candy Crawl was sponsored by the now defunct Westerly Substance Abuse Task Force through 2018 and is now hosted by the Westerly-Pawcatuck Downtown Business Association and the Westerly Police Department. It is scheduled to go on, rain or shine, with High Street closed to traffic from Canal Street to the Westerly Post Office to allow for families to safely trick-or-treat from store to store.
"If it is left up to us, we would want to hold the event to make sure residents have an option regardless of weather, even if the turnout is low," Lacey said. "We are keeping track of the storm, but have also been alerted that the governor may request towns delay such events in the interest of public safety."
Lacey said the state's notice, which was shared with local police departments on Wednesday, is a plan for the worst-case scenario. The decision will not be made one way or another until sometime on Thursday, he said.
In any case, state and local police, the state Department of Health, and AAA Northeast are reminding parents and trick-or-treaters to take the proper precautions: Keep to the sidewalks and crosswalks, carry a working flashlight, wear reflective costumes, and use a buddy system to make sure everyone is safe.
Other trick-or-treating rules: Go to homes where exterior lights are illuminated; don't enter a home without a parent present, and discard any candy or food not sealed in its original packaging. Children are also encouraged to use face-paint rather than masks when possible to improve vision and avoid objects such as cars or tripping hazards such as jack-o-lanterns.
Lacey also encouraged parents to stay alert to social media for any last minute changes and to keep an eye on weather reports, including checking right before leaving the house.
"The fact of the matter is, it does not look like the weather is going to cooperate much this year," Lacey said. "We will continue to monitor the situation through the evening. We are urging parents that if they intend to go out, to make sure they are taking extra precautions to keep themselves and their children safe."