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A Connecticut school district moved to ban Halloween celebrations this year, and the news has left parents spooked. Or at least, clamoring to protect the pagan holiday.

According to the Connecticut Post, Milford Public Schools won't hold Halloween parades or any other Halloween-specific celebrations at any elementary schools this year. Instead, fall-themed events are planned, and a PTA "trunk or treat" event which will serve as a venue for kids to wear costumes. Parents at Live Oaks School learned the news from a letter from the principal, which was acquired by the Post. Apparently, the decision to ban Halloween was made after "numerous incidents of children being excluded from activities due to religion, cultural beliefs, etc."

Screengrab via AP/FOX CT

Some did not see this as a good enough reason to ditch Halloween. A petition posted to by Rebecca Lilley points to Halloween as an American tradition (it's not). She writes:

Growing up in America there are certain traditions and celebrations we have become accustomed to celebrating at home and during school! Saying the pledge of allegiance, Halloween parades, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah celebrations, New years, Valentines day parties and dances and Easter. These are our American customs and traditions and we should not have to give them up because others find them offensive!


Not surprisingly, the petition included some thoughts on political correctness:

I'm so tired on my kids missing out on some of the things we all got to do as children and are some of the greatest childhood memories I have due to others saying they find it offensive. I say embrace our culture and we will try to embrace yours or keep your child home. Our children should not miss out on our traditional activities due to people crying they're offended.


So far, more than 1,400 have signed.

Parent Victoria Johannsen told the Connecticut Post the decision was "crazy," adding, "I don’t think we’re excluding anybody… I think they’re excluding themselves.” Heather Sharpe's children are no longer in elementary school, but used to walk in Halloween parades. She said, “Everything has gotten to the point where everything has gotten so P.C. that kids are not allowed to have any fun any more.”


These opinions seem slightly at odds with Milford's overall ethos, which COO Jim Richetelli described to the post as "for all children to feel comfortable and definitely not alienated when they come to school."


A letter from Milford Public Schools Superintendent Elizabeth E. Feser (and others) to parents dated October 10, was just sent to members of the press. In it, Feser said that the school had decided to reinstate the Halloween parade:

Knowing that the issue of Halloween is detracting from what we are truly about, and our time with our children around teaching and learning is most important, we have decided to reverse our decision.


But Feser made it clear she is not please by the parents' behavior. She explained that for the past five years, Milford elementary schools have been divided into two groups: Kindergarten through second grade and third grade to fifth grade. The K-2 group, she said, is the only one that's held Halloween parades since the divide. This year, the school was once again joined, with students from Pre-K to fifth grade learning together. The decision to rethink Halloween parades came out of that change. She wrote:

The elementary principals came together with me to talk about celebrating Halloween. The thoughtful discussion centered on creating a Halloween celebration that would be inclusive of all children, would involve parents, and perhaps the  larger community, would engage children in games, activities and more… The thinking behind this decision was that a family event in the early evening would enable all who wanted to be a part of a Halloween celebration to do so.


And, she added, the new plan would make it easy for families and children who wanted to opt out of Halloween to do so:

Meanwhile, children who for religious or cultural reasons would not take part, could easily, and without stigmatization, not attend the event… Finally, for children who may not have a costume to wear at school, a family evening event that centered on fun and games, and not on one’s costume, seemed far more appropriate.


Feser fired back at those who called the move unAmerican, saying that those parents' focus on the parade is misplaced. She wrote, "our feeling is that the planned school/PTA event in each school is far more reflective of the values of the American culture in that 'family' and 'children' are being celebrated through a Halloween gathering."

She also said, "the false accusations that have been made are irresponsible, and the antithesis of what we try to teach children." Damn.


Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.