Valerie Schremp Hahn, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 29, 2014
For the seventh Halloween in a row, St. Louis Alderman Antonio French is helping to give hundreds of children a fun part of childhood.
He’s helping to organize a six-block “safe zone” for area children to trick-or-treat from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday. The location has varied from year to year, but this year’s is the same as the last: the two blocks of Holly, Red Bud and Athlone avenues, bordering the southwest edge of O’Fallon Park.
There are about 250 houses in the area, and so far about 100 houses have signed up. Last year, about 1,000 children came to the area for trick-or-treating. The safe zones have become a project of The North Campus, French’s tutoring and education program for children in several north St. Louis neighborhoods.
Commmitteewoman Laura Keys, who lives in the 4500 block of Athlone, said the safe zone was an expansion of an effort she made years ago to send letters to her neighbors and encourage her block to participate in Halloween. She remembers one elderly man telling her why he never wanted to give out candy.
“He talked about not feeling safe to open his door. If he doesn’t feel safe, how many of my neighbors don’t feel safe?”
North Campus provides candy to families who have signed up to give it out, and some families supplement with their own. A North Campus shuttle patrols the area, and St. Louis police keep an eye on it, too. Some volunteers will give out candy from the porches of some houses that are vacant but not necessarily abandoned, French says.
Last weekend, neighborhood children got together at The Sanctuary, another part of North Campus, and carved 50 pumpkins to decorate porches in the safe zone.