It's baaack! 'Safety Street' returns Friday to scare up downtown Halloween fun

Trick or Treat on Safety Street will be back this Halloween, sponsored by the Kiwanis Club. The event runs downtown from 2 to 5 p.m. on Oct. 31.
Trick or Treat on Safety Street will be back this Halloween, sponsored by the Kiwanis Club. The event runs downtown from 2 to 5 p.m. on Oct. 31.Genevieve Reilly

Like a costumed superhero, the Kiwanis Club has swept in to save "Trick or Treat on Safety Street," a popular Halloween event for children that appeared to be scared away forever by Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

The Halloween Day event attracted hundreds of costumed trick-or-treaters to downtown streets, where merchants handed out candy. More goodies and entertainment could be found on Sherman Green. But when the event was canceled in the aftermath of the late-October storm in 2012, police, public works and fire personnel stepped in and hosted "Trunk or Treat" in the train station parking lot that year.

They assumed Safety Street would return the next year, but the event's sponsor, the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce, elected not to have the program in 2013, citing a lack of manpower, volunteer availability and a crowded calendar.

It looked like Safety Street would be relegated to be just a memory of Halloweens past until this spring, when Kiwanis Club member and owner of Fairfield Center Jewelers, Bob Sussman, lobbied First Selectman Michael Tetreau to allow the club to step in and run the event. It was, Sussman felt, a "perfect fit" with the Kiwanis Club philosophy of "serving the children of the world."

"In addition, our club said it was another great way to `give back to our community,' " said Glenn Barnhard, chairman of the new Safety Street Committee.

Over the summer, Barnhard discussed the event with Beverly Balaz, the chamber's executive director. With another Kiwanis member, Tove Vanderblue, they met with town Community and Economic Development Director Mark Barnhart and Balaz to discuss the club's role.

"We discussed a few different scenarios and other ideas presented by the chamber, but the Kiwanis Club made the decision to keep the event as it had been in the past, trick or treating in the downtown area," Barnhard said, "primarily because we had already received a number of supportive requests from parents and merchants imploring us to maintain the event."

They began to collect information about previous years, prepared a letter for merchants, and printed up a Halloween poster.

"The Kiwanis Club decided to get a group of members to walk the downtown area and personally meet each merchant, discuss the event, give them the letter explaining how we plan to run the event and, if they were interested in participating, give them a Halloween poster to put in their window to indicate they are a participating merchant," Barnhard said. "The response from the merchants was overwhelming."

The club also solicited other nonprofit and local organizations to join them on Sherman Green from 2 to 5 p.m. Halloween Day -- this Friday -- to pass out goodies and distribute information. The Kiwanis Club will sell its "famous" hot dogs and hamburgers, while radio station Star 99.9 will provide music.

Other organizations that will be on hand to support the event include the Sound Tigers and their mascot, Storm; the Arena Angels from the Webster bank Arena in Bridgeport; the Fairfield Public Library; the Fairfield Ludlowe High School UNICEF chapter; Operation Hope; the Fairfield Bike/Walk Coalition; the Rotary Club; the Fairfield Museum and History Center; the Discovery Museum in Bridgeport; the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce; the Fairfield Christmas Tree Festival; and the Democratic and Republican town committees.

Members of the high school Key Clubs, an arm of the Kiwanis organization, have been recruited to assist merchants in passing out treats, and all promotional expenses are being paid by the Kiwanis Club, at no additional expense to the town. The Police Department will provide additional officers to patrol downtown streets during the event.

"We are hoping to restore this wonderful town event to its former glory and make it an event that all of Fairfield can be proud of," Barnhard said. "This will be a great way for the families of Fairfield to have a safe and enjoyable venue to bring their children for trick or treat."