Churches can't move city's Halloween


CHESTER -- An effort to move Halloween back a day didn't sound like a treat to a majority of Chester City Council members this week.

The council voted down a measure that would have shifted the city's Halloween observance from the Wednesday it falls on to the day before. The idea came from local churchgoers who didn't want the costume-filled tradition interfering with their regular Wednesday night worship services.

"It'd be, to me, great to move it to Tuesday just so that you don't have to choose between coming to church or going trick-or-treating," said the Rev. Clay Waldrip of First Baptist Church in Chester. "That was my concern. ... I think it would have been nice (to move the observance) so it didn't have to conflict with the church schedule."

Waldrip was one of six people from various city churches who asked Mayor Mitch Foster to try to move the observance.

Council members debated the issue during this week's meeting.

Councilman Odell Williams disagreed with the notion, saying many churches have already scheduled Halloween carnivals. Councilwoman Susan Kovas added that changing the day could cause some confusion.

On the other side, Councilwoman Betty Bagley contended that when the city passed a measure moving the celebration of Sunday-falling Halloweens to Saturday, everything went smoothly.

Foster said the move would make choosing church easier.

"Sometimes it's difficult enough to get people to go to their respective churches on Wednesday night without Halloween competition," he said.

The vote was close, 5-4, but the ghoulish day will remain Oct. 31.

Foster, Bagley and council members Linda Tinker and Susan Kelsey voted for the move. Williams, Kovas and council members George Caldwell, Alan Clack and Annie Reid opposed it.

Although other communities in York and Chester counties have considered -- and in some cases shifted -- Halloween observances that fall on a Sunday, Chester is the only municipality that's debated a move from Wednesday this year.

"We have never taken a position on what to do about Halloween," said David Hudspeth, Fort Mill's town manager. "We have had parents call us before and say, 'What night are we celebrating Halloween? And we say, 'Well ... you know that's up to you. You can go dress up any night if you want to.'"

Waldrip said he's not going to press the issue with city leaders. At his church, services will continue as usual, although his youth group might do something for city children.

"If it's going to stay that way, we'll try to find some ministry aspect to it," he said. "We can still make a difference."