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Halloween is Saturday; watch for wee goblins, and don't forget about odd/even parking

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By falling on a Saturday night, Halloween this year could be wilder and spookier.

The merrymaking is fine by Police Chief Roger Leque, but he offered a checklist of precautions.

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"Our Halloweens have typically been uneventful, which is great, but there are always things for people to look out for so that they have fun but stay safe," he said.

Among the chief's suggestions:

  • Make sure young trick-or-treaters are supervised, preferably by an adult
  • Don't let kids stray or dart onto streets; they should stay on sidewalks and use crosswalks
  • Wear easy-to-spot, light-colored clothing (and costumes) because pedestrians are hard to see at dusk, the prime period for trick-or-treating
  • Inspect all treats for tampering and foreign objects after returning home
  • Oversee your children's travel plans and try to stick close to home or in familiar neighborhoods

    "Most of this is just standard protocol for moms and dads and their kids," Leque said. "I would also encourage trick-or-treaters to get done earlier in the evening.

    "There's no law that says they can't be out later, but if it's pushing eight o'clock, that's getting pretty late and people are already turning off their lights at home.

    "In addition -- and especially on a Saturday night -- that's also the time (eight o'clock) when things transition from a children's event into more of an adult climate."

    Leque said homeowners on Halloween should watch their lawn ornaments, decorations and pumpkins. They may also wish to bring them in after trick-or-treating.

    "Obviously, then, they're not a target for vandalism," he said.

    To protect against Halloween vandals, Leque said police will have extra officers patrolling.

    "They'll be closely monitoring things that night," he said. "Whether it's vandalism or intimidating trick-or-treaters, people will be held accountable for their actions."

    Leque also asked that Saturday evening drivers be alert for the rush of pedestrians, "especially of smaller children."

    Parking, sidewalks

    Besides being the day of the big rematch between the Green Bay Packers and the Brett Favre-led Minnesota Vikings, Sunday marks the start of five months of "alternative night parking."

    These parking restrictions are to make it easier for street crews to clear away snow on city streets after a storm.

    While Nov. 1 may seem early for this concern, River Falls has already had several inches of snowfall in October.

    "We encourage everyone to help communicate these parking restrictions throughout the winter season, especially if someone has overnight guests," Leque said. "There are signs posted on these restrictions at main highway entrances to the city."

    Alternative -- or Odd/Even Parking -- on city streets lasts until March 31. Each night between 1 and 6 a.m. drivers must:

  • Park on the odd-numbered side of the street on odd calendar dates.
  • Park on the even-numbered side of the street on even dates.
  • Remember to park according to the date after midnight.

    According to Leque, vehicles violating this odd/even system will be given $10 tickets and may also be towed.

    Officers will patrol streets nightly -- whether it's snowing or not -- to enforce alternative street parking. They will focus on busier streets close to downtown and also look for those who violate areas where overnight parking is banned.

    "The first few days to start the odd/even parking, we will issue warnings until people get acclimated to the change," Leque said. "However, if we have a snowstorm right way, we might have to tow away violators.

    "The goal isn't to write a lot of tickets, but to get people used to the routine so they comply with the ordinance and nobody has to get a ticket. In that way, the city can carry on with more efficient snow plowing."

    The key point to remember is that starting Nov. 1, one side or the street or the other can't be parked on overnight.

    Besides streets, Leque reminded homeowners, tenants, and businesses that sidewalks must be kept clear all winter.

    "Our city has a high-pedestrian count, with many college students and younger school-age kids out walking," he said.

    Snowy, icy sidewalks pose risk to those walkers, and also to the elderly.

    City law requires home and building occupants to clear snow and ice within 24 hours after snow, sleet or rain falls.

    If this isn't done and complaints are received, the city may have the sidewalks cleared and bill the cost for doing so to the property owner.

    One more weekend reminder: After Halloween, don't forget to set your clocks back one hour before going to bed. Daylight Saving Time ends at 2 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 1.

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