ENGLEWOOD — Chicago recently was named the “best city” in the country to go trick-or-treating, and in many neighborhoods costumed children cram the sidewalks as they go door-to-door collecting candy.
But some residents can only lament: Why can't we do the same?
“It’s a safety issue,” said LaTanya Johnson, an Englewood resident. "You don’t see a lot of kids trick-or-treating. You used to, but people are really cautious of kids eating candy off of the streets.”
Johnson said many houses simply don't pass out candy.
“A lot of people don’t participate anymore because you got people walking up to doors acting a fool,” Johnson said.
She said parents are also worried about sending kids to unknown homes.
The fears continue despite gains Englewood has made in fighting crime: Some crimes, such as shootings, are down 43 percent this year, police say.
Longtime Englewood resident and parent Lannon Broughton said people already are wary about opening their doors to strangers, a feeling that escalates at Halloween.
“Some people don't want to,” Broughton said. “It’s mainly a safety issue, which is why a lot of events get a large turnout.”
Those events included a party last Saturday at Ogden Park, hosted by Johnson's organization, LaTanya & the Youth of Englewood, and another from 4-8 p.m. on Halloween at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, 415 W. Englewood Ave.
Safety concerns send many families to other neighborhoods for treats, such as Beverly and Hyde Park.
“We’ve been taking the kids [to Beverly] for almost seven years and have never had a problem,” said Johnson, who takes her nieces.
Broughton said when his adult children were younger, he’d also drive them out of the community to go trick-or-treating.
“It was a lot safer, so I understand why people take their kids to Beverly,” he said. “That's where we used to go.”
This year he’ll be taking his grandchildren to a different neighborhood, but he said he’s not sure where yet.
Parent Charles Kyle disagrees with the idea of commuting for candy on Halloween.
“Obviously, you don’t want to risk you or your child’s safety, but it’s not the responsibility of the people in the nice neighborhoods to supply candy to the entire city,” he said.
He takes his son trick-or-treating a few blocks from the South Shore Cultural Center in Bryn Mawr, which he called the “safest pocket of South Shore.”
“I trick or treat in my neighborhood because I take pride in my community,” he said. “I understand that I need to be the change that I want to see. While other families choose to go to Beverly or Hyde Park, I know that I have caring neighbors in South Shore who also believe in a safe and fun Halloween for our children.”
Other parents like Bettye Eboifo just skip trick-or-treating altogether.
Eboifo has a 10-year-old daughter who isn't allowed to go trick-or-treating in Englewood.
“We go to a party or a church, but as far as going door to door, I don't do that anymore,” she said.
She’s an Englewood native who moved to the North Side for a few years, and even there once got candy that looked questionable, as well as damaged fruit. She moved back to Englewood in 2000.
She said parents didn’t used to worry as much as they do now, and a lot more children participated in trick-or-treating when she was growing up in Englewood.
“It was different,” Eboifo said. “We didn't have to worry about all of this. It was a community. You knew the people."
She now sends her daughter to structured events or parties at friends' homes.
“[Risking] her life isn’t worth some candy,” she said.