A North Waco Halloween tradition ran into a scare this year with city of Waco event regulations but got a last-minute assist from the city itself.
The grassroots event known as Halloween on Colcord featured hordes of trick-or-treaters, mounds of candy and volunteers cooking up more than 1,000 hot dogs Tuesday.
But on the eve of Halloween, it appeared the city would not be closing off Colcord for the event, which drew an estimated 1,500 last year. That’s because the city said the event needed an “activity permit,” along with event insurance and four police officers.
The problem was that that no one was truly in charge of the festivities, not even the Sanger Heights Neighborhood Association, which has provided volunteers and funding for several years. No one was willing to sign off on the event insurance.
“It’s unusual in that it’s not really an event, and no one is really responsible,” said Luann Jennings, interim president of the neighborhood association. “They’re going to come whether we prepare for it or not.”
But after discussions between Colcord residents, the parks department and Councilman Dillon Meek, City Manager Dale Fisseler said Thursday morning that the city would close the street from 21st to 25th Street, provide the officers and sign off on the insurance paperwork. Donations from the neighborhood association and Antioch Community Church helped pay for the insurance.
Fisseler said the city has closed the street for several years, and it has helped make trick-or-treating safer.
“I see this as a safety benefit to the neighborhood,” Fisseler said. “It’s a good event and helps neighbors get to know each other, and that has an impact on crime.”
Meek said the city and neighbors will have time to plan for next year’s closure, but he said he was pleased Fisseler took the action to close the street for safety reasons.
Jennings said she was grateful for the decision.
“I think it helps make everybody safer, and I think it’s great the city was willing to do that,” she said.
The city has closed Colcord on Halloween since 2013, and in the past the neighborhood association has gotten an activity permit without having to have insurance, former association president Fernando Arroyo said. Last year, the association paid for a single police officer at the city’s request.
Colcord Avenue, with its stately houses dating back to the early 20th century, has been a Halloween destination for as long as anyone can remember.
Ed Braig, who lives at Colcord and 22nd Street, said it was one reason he moved to the neighborhood 27 years ago.
“I moved here from Houston, and I was real hesitant about moving into the Sanger Heights neighborhood,” Braig said. “In October, someone told me, go down and look at those houses. I went down there on Halloween and parked my car on 22nd Street, and I stood there in awe. I never could have believed that many kids would be in that neighborhood.”
After that revelation, Braig decided to buy his house and raise a family on Colcord, and now he looks forward to every Oct. 31. For this year’s event, he stocked up with more than 1,000 pieces of candy and decorated his house with a giant dragon.