MAHONING VALLEY Concerns curtail Halloween events

Community donations will help bolster Leetonia's annual post-parade party.
While Leetonia officials move ahead with a community Halloween party Monday, Girard's annual school festivities have been canceled because of threats.
Amid concern about bioterrorism threats in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Leetonia Village Council voted Oct. 17 to cancel trick-or-treat rounds.
Meanwhile, Girard will have its traditional door-to-door event as planned, but Frank Rich, safety director, said that a PTA leader got an anonymous telephone call Oct. 1, suggesting candy that is handed out during that community's annual school party may be tampered with.
The call wasn't reported to police until last week.
"The administration has spent significant time in meetings with law enforcement officers and others," Girard schools Superintendent Joseph Shoaf said in announcing the change Monday.
"We have, together, concluded that canceling the Halloween party is in the best interests of all concerned."
Girard still plans regular trick-or-treat rounds from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 31.
Leetonia party: Leetonia police Chief John Soldano said the community has responded well to cancellation of trick or treating and requests for donations to bolster the fire department's annual Halloween party.
Soldano said that thanks to the community efforts in donating, the fire department's event will be bigger and better than ever.
"There won't be any problem because lots of people are donating things," Soldano said. "Everyone wants to help."
He said the fire department usually has cider, doughnuts and candy for the kids. With the community donations, the goodie bags will be bigger, and there will be hot dogs and pizza as well.
"We want to protect our kids," he said. "We want to make Halloween safe. That is our goal."
"I hate to see the kids lose something they look forward to, but it's a precaution because of all the hoaxes," Mayor Artie Altomare said. "Hopefully, it's just for this year."
Concerns: Councilman Dan Valentine, a Beaver Township policeman and Salem Township constable, suggested canceling the door-to-door event.
"Why should we put the kids at risk?" Valentine said. "People are on edge. We're watching for anything suspicious, and we would have 400 people going door-to-door wearing masks."
The annual Halloween parade will assemble at 6 p.m. at Main and Elm streets and proceed along Main Street. The parade will end at the fire station, where firefighters and village officials will have treats for participants.
The event will also include a costume contest, with participants judged by age and costume theme. Prizes will be awarded to first, second and third place in each category.