Neighborhoods close, churches open for Halloween

Tupelo stockBy JB Clark

Daily Journal

TUPELO – Five Tupelo churches will offer a downtown Halloween night alternative to neighborhood trick-or-treating this year, hosting their Trunk-Or-Treat along Jefferson Street.

First United Methodist, First Presbyterian, All Saints’ Episcopal, First Christian and King’s Gate churches are teaming up with the Lee County Library and Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association to provide a safe, traffic-free environment to gather and eat candy.

Volunteers will decorate their cars and line Jefferson Street from Green Street to Robins Street with their trunks open and full of candy.

The streets will be closed to traffic and entertainment and food will be provided. The events are from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

“I’m excited because last year, three churches did it and we added two churches plus the library and downtown who called us to be a part of the event,” said Kristen Partin, older children’s coordinator at First United Methodist Church. “It’s a great chance for the entire community to come together and provide a safe place for the children to trick-or-treat.”

Partin said there is no charge for hamburgers and hotdogs but they will accept donations to help cover costs.

First Baptist Church also will host a public event Thursday at Robins Field. The event will be from 5 to 8 p.m. and will provide candy and inflatables.

Neighborhood changes

Open church events will need to be a destination for some instead of heading to larger Tupelo neighborhoods. Two Tupelo neighborhoods are closing their streets to outside trick-or-treaters this year because of traffic and safety concerns from previous years.

David Parker, Spring Lake Homeowners Association president, said in previous years cars lined each side of each street in the neighborhood, creating safety hazards for children.

Chris Richburg, president of the Oak Meadows Homeowners Association, said they have had similar problems and had some children separated from their groups last year.

The two neighborhoods have received block party permits from the city and will place a barricade at the entrance of the neighborhood. Tupelo Police Maj. Jackie Clayton said the volunteers manning the barricade have the authority to turn cars away during the permitted time.

“The block party permit is going to greatly reduce traffic congestion,” Parker said. “It’s gotten to where it’s dangerous to maneuver your car through the neighborhood. Children come in from surrounding counties – we’ve had a school bus come in – and even from Alabama. It’s gotten so congested that we’re concerned for the children’s safety – and not just our children, their children, too.”

Richburg said he checked with Mayor Jason Shelton and members of the City Council to make sure what they’re doing is OK.

“I’ve heard through the grapevine that there are some rumblings we’re doing this for the wrong reasons,” Richburg said. “It is strictly because having that many people in the neighborhood is a liability.”

Clayton said parents need to make sure to respect permitted roadblocks and keep an eye on their children at all times.

“Check the candy and remember there are many festivals in town that are good to go to,” he said. “Watch the children as they cross the roads and try to get everything done early so you’re not out too late. We’re going to have overtime officers and the street crimes unit out to watch over activities.”

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  • Kevin

    Let me guess, there won’t be any drinking there either. So why have a party without some drinks?

    • Winston Smith

      Well it’s from 5:30 to 7:00 and designed primarily for children and sponsored by a bunch of churches..

      • Kevin

        Well, I’ve drank alcohol around kids before. It wasn’t the end of the world for them.

        • Winston Smith

          I like the way you think sir.

      • barney fife

        And we all know that church going types don’t imbibe.

  • Nancy

    ok this may be a stupid question but is this going to be on Halloween night or what. I would assume it would but everyone know what it means to assume…

  • Terry Williams

    Way to show the kids they have to do a certain thing to be accepted and seeming even more stuck up. Seriously why should you have to get a permit to go door to door trick or treating the way we have always done it for years? Remember the way you were raised that’s all I’m saying.

    • Terry Williams

      Leave it to people like this to think of thier own selves to ruin a holiday for kids as always. Might as well be run by The Westboro Group