National News

Candy ban at Anoka Halloween parade not set in stone

Posted August 17, 2017 2:27 p.m. EDT

— Controversy is brewing in the Halloween Capital of the World, after organizers of Anoka's Grand Day Parade announced that they would no longer be allowing candy distribution.

But a solution could be on the horizon.

Anoka Halloween Inc., the nonprofit board of volunteers behind the many Halloween events in town, has dealt with an unrelenting flood of largely negative social media comments since making the announcement.

Offline, kids and parents around town have also been pretty bothered by the thought of a Halloween parade with no sweets.

"I would be pretty mad," said 7-year-old Shedreya Jenkins.

"What is a parade without the candy?" said Shedreya's mom, Jackie Jenkins.

Parade Chair Liz McFarland says the decision is all about safety. Despite rules prohibiting throwing candy from floats and other measures, she says the crowds are getting larger and the risks are getting bigger, too.

"Not a fun decision by any means," McFarland said. "We even put crash gates, the large steel gates in multiple areas on the route and kids are going underneath the gates or the public is moving the gates."

McFarland says the mile and a half long route is tough to monitor and she says there have been several close calls, which have involved kids darting in front of, and beneath, floats in order to grab candy.

Still, she says she has been listening to suggestions by community members. She says there is likely a solution involving bags of candy handed out along the route, but it will require an increase in volunteers.

"I want to change this ruling, but I need more people," she said.

McFarland says there are usually about 30 volunteers helping with parade security, but she says in order to distribute candy safely it will take more than 100.

"It's early so maybe we can reach out to the community and get some more help," said Mary Faith Moore, owner of Pucci Pet Career Studio, which has taken part in the parade for several years.

Moore says they have plenty of Halloween spirit and could likely provide some volunteers in addition to their float.

"The candy is a big part of the parade," Moore said.

Others in town agree that the community will likely come together to pull it off.

"I'm more than sure that they'll make it happen out here," Jackie Jenkins said.

And if they need help recruiting, Shedreya has a plea.

"Help the parade and bring candy back," she said.