Don’t be ‘tricked’: Some Evanston laws are really just myths

Brian Rosenthal

Communication freshman Ryan Hynes has already heard all the crazy Evanston rumors. He has heard that bowling is illegal within city limits, but he doesn’t believe it. He has also heard that skipping on the sidewalk isn’t allowed, but he dismissed that one as well.

And what about trick-or-treating?

“I think it’s illegal,” he said. “I don’t believe it should be, but I think it is. Isn’t it?”

Well, yes and no.

Evanston children masquerading as witches, ghosts and Sarah Palins are free to hit the streets in search of candy today – but only during the city’s designated trick-or-treating hours.

Mayor Lorraine Morton declared that the official time for collecting candy door-to-door is between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m, said Parks, Forestry and Recreation Director Doug Gaynor, adding “the city feels that it’s the most safe for the young folks to be out.”

The limitations have been in place for longer than a decade, said Gaynor, who was unaware of the popular Northwestern misconception.

City officials also urged parents to accompany their children during their candy hunt, according to a “Halloween Safety Tips” document on the city’s Web site.

Despite the restrictions, kids won’t be arrested for trying to get candy after the 7 p.m. deadline, police said.

Representatives from both the Evanston Police Department and University Police did say that more officers would be on the streets for Halloween night.

“There will be a significant presence by University Police tomorrow night both on and off campus,” said Assistant Chief of University Police Dan McAleer on Thursday afternoon. “There tends to be a lot of people out – young people.”

There are usually more parties when Halloween falls on a Friday night, and there are often problems with intoxication, McAleer said. EPD Cmdr. Thomas Guenther simply said there’s “more activity” on Halloween night.

As a way to prevent pranking, some Evanston businesses are temporarily refusing to sell eggs to kids, according to a Chicago Public Radio report.

Evanston’s restrictive trick-or-treating laws led to the creation of Project Pumpkin, an annual event in late October in which more than 1,000 local children come to Norris University Center to trick-or-treat and play games.

“Legend has it that the repressive Evanston government was cracking down on trick-or-treating and this emerged as a substitute,” said Max Fletcher, co-president of the Northwestern Community Development Corps, which runs the event.

The event also “creates a safe and fun environment that kids can go to,” said NCDC Campus Outreach co-chair Sara Fletcher.

Trick-or-treating is not the only false rumor about Evanston law perpetuated by the NU student body.

Many NU students, for instance, believe that bowling is illegal in Evanston, Communication junior Monica Thomas said.

Thomas said she wasn’t sure if it was true, but did note that there are no bowling alleys in town.

Ald. Steven Bernstein (4th), however, said bowling alleys are completely legal.

“I’ve tried to bring one to Evanston,” Bernstein said in an interview in May. “We just couldn’t find the space.”

Thomas also said she wasn’t sure about another myth denied by Bernstein – that skipping is illegal in the city.

“I don’t know,” Thomas said. “But I’ve done it.”

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