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Letter to the Editor: Town Leaders Say 'Discretion and Common Sense' were Backbone of Halloween Decision

A letter to the editor from town and school leaders in Hamilton and Wenham about the decision to postpon Trick-or-Treat.

To the Editor:

As public officials and administrators we spend the bulk of our time ensuring that the services you receive are delivered responsibly and effectively with an understanding that in most situations, there invariably will be some who disagree with that decision. 

Postponing trick-or-treat activities in Hamilton and Wenham for a few days was based upon all available information at the time, and in consideration of what would be gained or lost by delaying the activity. 

We knew our decision would certainly disappoint our youth who spent a fair amount of time picking out the perfect costume, and waiting in great anticipation for the fun that Halloween can bring. 

What we also knew was that at the beginning of Halloween Day, over 1,400 residents in the two towns were still without power with no real understanding of how many would be restored by day’s end; that many streets, driveways, and front yards were littered with fallen trees and debris; that the power company could not assure us with absolute certainty that all downed wires were without power; and that darkened narrow streets strewed with debris created an unacceptable safety risk for the entire community. 

Memories fade quickly, and we are reminded that during last year’s “Snowtober” – an event far short of the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy - many Massachusetts communities either postponed or cancelled Trick-or Treat activities. The following statement was issued from the Governor’s Office: 

“[Lieutenant Governor] Murray continued, “Given the fact that we are in a state of emergency, we’re asking municipal leaders to use discretion and common sense when making a decision as to whether they should be going forward with Halloween or not.”

For our part, discretion and common sense were the backbone of our decision-making and while we sympathize and certainly apologize to all the children for their disappointment, believe that disappointment is a far better emotion to reconcile than the grief over the loss of a sibling or family member, neighbor, or friend. 

Respectfully, 

Michael Lombardo, Hamilton Town Manager 

Mark Andrews, Wenham Town Administrator 

Mike Harvey, Superintendent, Hamilton-Wenham Regional School District 

Russ Stevens, Hamilton Police Chief 

Tom Perkins, Wenham Police Chief 

Matt November 02, 2012 at 01:09 PM
But it was safe enough to send them to school? Frustration arose with the last minute decision. Other towns with the same circumstances made the announecment in a much more timely fashion.
Tyson Goodridge November 02, 2012 at 01:37 PM
Michael, Mark, Mike, Russ and Tom. Thanks for your well-written response articulating your thought process and ernest efforts on behalf of both towns. I'm sure it wasn't easy making an obviously unpopular decision in our towns. As I'm sure you probably know, there were some "rogue" trick-or-treaters on Wednesday night which brought up some fairly awkward/ironic moments. A friend had told her daughters that Halloween was moved to Saturday- the girls were sad, but looking forward to Saturday. An hour later, a group of trick or treaters knocked on the door. Guess who answered the door? The two little girls were crestfallen, confused and mad at Mommy. I'm sure this happened to a bunch of us. Not really a big deal, but an almost comical twist to the story I thought I'd throw in here. Anyway, I think the real issue I (and others) have was in the DELIVERY of the message. Your well-intentioned message just felt a bit too "Big Brother" for me. I think you may have been better served issuing a very stern warning/Halloween advisory to all of us. (Think NJ Governor Chris Christie...) "Dear Hamilton/Wenham residents: Due to downed electric lines and loss of power in several neighborhoods, we recommend that you use extreme caution when trick or treating tonight. The following neighborhoods, due to safety concerns, are closed to all pedestrian and vehicular traffic : Fox Run/Tally Ho, Elm Street, etc". There, wouldn't that work?
Steph November 02, 2012 at 07:17 PM
I applaud the town's decision to postpone. Going to school in daylight is one thing. Trick or treating in the dark is another. It would also have gotten in the way of those crews working through that night trying to get our power back on. Cars were dodging utility crews in all sorts of places, which would have made it even more dangerous for the trick or treaters. I know it's a disappointment to have to wait for some of the kids, but hopefully knowing that more families will be home and open for business on Saturday night at 5 (as opposed to rushing home from work and not being ready with candy until later) will help. In the end, I think the haul of candy will actually be greater!
R. Allen November 03, 2012 at 03:26 AM
Blah, blah, blah....More unpopular decisions by Hamilton. What a shock. With a mountain of other unpopular decisions that Lombardo has either made or allowed I think we all now understand why he had to leave his former job. We do not need this kind of management, we need to be allowed to execute freedom of judgement based on common sense. This is not about Halloween and to trick or treat or not, it is about a pattern of unbelievably bad decisions by the town manager and Selectman that has culminated in an all time low in the opinion of the town government by the people who have to listen to them.

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