Melville Avenue in Dorchester might seem an unremarkable stretch of neatly kept Victorians and tended lawns, with the occasional picket fence. But the street, tucked between the worn three-deckers of Fields Corner and Codman Square, has a prized quality: It is safe.
Each Halloween, hundreds–some say thousands–of costumed children come on foot and by the carload from nearby blocks and farther away in Mattapan and Roxbury for what their parents worry they will not get at home: a night of trick-or-treating without fear of violence.
Throngs have come for years, turning Oct. 31 into an event that some residents prepare for with parties and huge caches of candy.
This year, fear of violence could make the crowds even bigger. In the aftermath of a wave of slayings that included two 14-year-olds and the grisly shooting of a mother and her 2-year-old son, Mayor Thomas M. Menino has ordered police patrols stepped up and special Halloween events in the neighborhoods.
Few residents seem to know how the street became a Halloween hotspot. They don’t advertise. Yet each year, school buses, vans, and sport utility vehicles pull up, spilling youngsters in costume and their parents onto Melville Avenue and neighboring streets.
Neighbors say the children are polite and often wait patiently with their parents or chaperone for their share of the goods.
Melville Avenue is not the only Boston street that draws scores of city children. Many also trek to Ashmont Hill and Savin Hill areas in Dorchester or to streets in Hyde Park.