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Keep Newtown's Halloween Authentic



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To the Editor:

There is nothing quite as authentic as Halloween on Newtown's charmingly bucolic Main Street. The way residents spookily garland their homes, the care with which families conceive and construct their costumes, the generous dispatch of candy – all of it speaks of community. It is a genuine coming-together of a special town.

So why is it that when trick-or-treaters making their rounds arrived at the municipally-owned Ed-mond Town Hall on Saturday they were accosted by an obnoxious confection of politics, proselytizing, and corporate marketing?

First, they were confronted by a conga line of politicos dishing out sweets for votes. Then they were blasted by loud rave music and psychedelic puppets courtesy of the Grace Family Church. Lastly, there was a dude in a cow outfit shilling for fast-food chain Chick-fil-A.

I like my politics, God, and chicken as much as anyone, if not necessarily in that order. But how this was an appropriate use of town public space during a non-partisan, non-denominational and unofficial parade of good-neighborliness and community spirit is beyond me.

I understand the need to raise awareness for town elections, during which a woefully small percent-age of voters regularly determines the outcome. I can see why churches might want to combat a pagan stroll of the costumed undead with a New Testament lesson. And if I sold junk-food, I would love noth-ing more than a festive audience with a stream of impressionable youngsters.

But the town should not be endorsing any of this. If one political party can use Halloween as a stump, what's to stop others from demanding the same right – even ones that may be devoted to a single inter-est which may offend many of our neighbors, like arming teachers or deporting immigrants?

Equally, if Chick-fil-A can hawk its sodium-delivery products to kids on Halloween, then why not McDonald's or Wendy's with its gut-busting Baconator? Would we really want a procession of fast-food outlets exploiting the genuine character of Newtown's Halloween processional?

And if Grace Family Church can preach the good word, what's to stop, say, the Westboro Baptist Church from setting up a tent and delivering its message of intolerance? The point is our town should not be putting itself in a position where it might be forced to answer constitutional questions like these.

What we saw on Saturday was an indefensible use of community assets. From next year, let's use our public space for something else: a battle of the bands for teens, Halloween art projects, a best-costume contest, apple-dunking, anything but politics, preaching and marketing pitches.

Keep Newtown's Halloween authentic.


Rob Cox

136 Castle Hill Road, Newtown     November 2, 2015

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