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The city of Shelbyville on Wednesday joined the growing ranks of Kentucky cities, including Frankfort and Louisville, in which officials postponed trick or treating from Halloween night to tonight because of weather concerns.
City Clerk/treasurer Inez Harris said the time of 5 to 7 p.m. would remain the same. The city has an ordinance that specifies that Halloween is to be celebrated between 5 and 7 p.m. on Oct. 31 except when that date falls on a Sunday, but Shelbyville Mayor Tom Hardesty made a decision to set aside the ordinance.
“He [Hardesty] has told the council and the council agreed to change it due to the weather,” Harris said. “It wasn’t a decision that he made on his own; he made it jointly with the council.”
Elsewhere in Shelby County, trick or treating took place as scheduled on Thursday night.
Inez said she received word Wednesday morning about the change.
“A memo came out this morning that said due to inclement weather predicted for Thursday night that the City of Shelbyville has changed the date to November the first,” she said.
The city’s Web site had the following comment under its announcements tab on Wednesday: “For the safety of our children, trick or treat has been changed to Friday night due to the weather predicted for Thursday night.”
Hardesty cited the unfavorable weather forecast as his reason for making an executive order to change the day and time for the Halloween celebration.
The forecast for that Halloween night called for extremely nasty weather, which included severe thunderstorms and severe weather rolling into Shelby County by late afternoon, with winds gusting up to 40 miles per hour. Winds had begun to become stronger by about 1 p.m. on Thursday. The National Weather Service issued a tornado watch at 6:25 p.m. to be in effect until 11 p.m. for Shelby County.
“By five o’clock, we have a ninety percent chance of rain in Shelby County, and it will stay that way until at least nine o’clock at night,” National Weather Service Meteorologist Ron Steve said. “The nastiest thunderstorms are the one that give us severe winds and even a quick spin up. It will be a real nasty, hard-driven rain.”
Shelbyville passed its trick-or-treat ordinance in 1999, setting the time for Halloween trick or treating between 5 and 7 p.m. on Oct. 31, and moves the date to the Saturday before if that date falls on a Sunday. Simpsonville City Administrator David Eaton was mayor of Shelbyville at that time, and he said that the procedure to deviate from an ordinance depends on whether ordinance has a clause that permits emergency changes.
However, Hardesty said that an executive decision may always be made in an emergency situation, and he said he felt that the threat of severe weather met that criteria.
“The mayor or the county judge always has the authority to make emergency changes if they deem it in the interests of the community,” he said. “So I would rather err on the side of caution and postpone it, because if we keep even one child from getting hurt, it’s all worth it.”
Too much confusion
Shelby County Judge-Executive Rob Rothenburger said that, even knowing about the prediction for inclement weather, he decided not to move the date of the event for county residents for a number of reasons, the main one being that it could cause “mass confusion.”
“We don’t have the luxury that the city does of only having a small, compact area; we have the entire county,” he said. “We have a multitude of civic and religious organizations that sponsor activities on Halloween night, and to try to get them turned around in midstream at the last minute is almost impossible. In light of that, this way, we’re actually offering options for trick-or-treaters [in the city].
“If the weather should break, they can go out in the county, and if not, they can go to one of the many events scheduled throughout the county. And if they don’t get to do any one of those, they can always go out the following night in Shelbyville.”
Rothenburger said Wednesday that he had been getting calls all day from people asking when trick or treat was supposed to occur.
Likewise The Sentinel-News received many phone calls, E-mails and Facebook comments about the situation, most of which expressed confusion. Not everyone likes the specified hours, and not everyone was happy about Hardesty’s decision.
Athletic personnel from both Collins High School and Shelby County High School expressed concern about the change could affect attendance at their home football games on Friday night.
“I spoke to Mayor [Steve] Eden in Simpsonville, and he said they did change one year, and he said it was worst thing he ever saw,” Rothenburger said. “Because you can’t get the word out to everybody, and he said they had trick-or-treaters out on Halloween; they had trick-or-treaters out the next night. He said it mass confusion in Simpsonville for two solid nights.
“We are just asking parents to be very cognizant of what the weather is and to make their decisions accordingly.”