Police urge residents to make this Halloween a safe one, crackdown on Castro celebrations

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) — Bay Area and state officials gearing up for Saturday’s Halloween celebrations are urging residents to stay safe.

In San Francisco, the Home for Halloween campaign is urging residents to celebrate in their own neighborhoods.

Launched in 2007 as part of a crackdown on the Castro District Halloween celebrations, which devolved into violence and vandalism, the campaign encourages residents to attend local events around the city and discourages people outside the city from driving in.

Streets in the Castro District, which once drew people from around the Bay Area, will remain open to traffic and there will be no official celebration in the area, officials said.

“For those people who would come into the Castro – or any part of the City – with bad intentions and exhibiting bad behavior, the message is very clear: stay home,” Police Chief Greg Suhr said Monday.

The campaign’s web site, HomeforHalloween.com, includes information on events around the city.

The California Highway Patrol and the California Office of Traffic Safety are reminding adults planning to celebrate on Saturday to plan ahead and designate a sober driver or find a safe ride home.

“Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs always presents serious, life-threatening risks, but even more so on a night when pedestrians and children are out trick-or-treating,” Office of Traffic Safety Director Rhonda Craft said in a statement.

The American Automobile Association is reminding drivers that children are more than four times as likely to be hit by a car on Halloween between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. than on any other day of the year.

“Combine children walking after dark, candy, vision-compromising costumes and adult partygoers on the road and you have a recipe for disaster,” AAA Northern California spokeswoman Cynthia Harris said in a statement.

AAA urged motorists to slow down in residential neighborhoods and actively watch for children walking on roadways, medians and curbs and crossing the street. Turn on your headlights to make yourself more visible, even in the day, and use extra caution in entering and exiting alleyways and driveways.

Parents should make sure an adult or responsible older youth is supervising children under the age of 12 and make sure older children travel in groups. Discuss the routes trick-or-treaters will follow, advising them to stick to established and familiar areas. Teach children to never enter a stranger’s home or garage and to wait until they get home to eat their candy, and set a time for them to return home.

Trick-or-treaters should put reflective tape on costumes and candy buckets and carry flashlights, wear costumes that don’t obstruct vision, stay on sidewalks and cross streets carefully.

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