Halloween Gets Too Big for Residents on 'Trick-or-Treat Street'
Whitney Road residents say more than 500 kids came to their homes last year for Halloween.
Halloween is traditionally a family event — parents taking their kids for a stroll for a couple of blocks as the youngsters fill their bags with candy.
But in Fox Point, what began as a small neighborhood get-together on Whitney Road has exploded into a trick-or-treat experience that draws hundreds of kids — many of whom don't live in the neighborhood, let alone the village.
"It's like State Street on Halloween," said Whitney Road resident Tyler Rudkin, referring to the annual celebration in Madison. "Just swarms of people."
In past years, the village put up barricades to close off Whitney Road so children could safely go through the neighborhood and collect their goodies.
Last year, the street was closed as the village considered the trick-or-treating as a "block party." However, Village Manager Susan Robertson told residents this year that she wouldn't allow the street to close without getting approval from the Village Board.
"I will not be able to approve a block party request this year for the Halloween trick-or-treat time as the magnitude of the event has really gotten beyond a block party," she said in an e-mail to a Whitney Road resident.
"If you and/or others are interested in having Whitney Road blocked off during this year’s trick or treat, a request will need to be made to the Village Board to have the street closed," she wrote.
Robertson suggested meeting in advance to discuss the actual street closure procedure and even assist in the process of requesting a waiver for the cost of blocking the street. However, residents did not follow up with her or the board.
Rudkin has lived in Fox Point for 11 years. When he moved in, a neighbor who had lived next door for more than 50 years said that Whitney Road, also known as "Trick-or-Treat Street," has been a well-known hot spot for Halloween throughout much of the North Shore for more than three decades. Without those barricades, he and others are worried about the safety of the trick-or-treaters who will show up on Oct. 30.
"They (drivers) may not be aware that that little block has a high concentration of little kids darting around in dark costumes," Rudkin said.
Kids come from all over
Trick-or-treat on Whitney Road has always been larger than just the local kids. However, these days, there are vans of kids who get dropped off from other communities, including Glendale, Whitefish Bay and Mequon.
In 2001, the crowd had exploded so drastically that parents began to worry about the masses of children scattered down the street, running from driveway to driveway. That's when Kymberlee Rosen, another Whitney Road resident, stepped up.
"There was a lot of trick-or-treat traffic, but there wasn't what we have now," Rosen said.
So, she contacted Fox Point Village Hall and asked about putting out barricades to protect the kids from traffic. Rosen said for a few years, she would send out a request, the barricades would be dropped off at the end of her driveway, and officers would pick them up a few days later.
The event grew so large that to continue getting village approval for the barricades, it had to be considered a block party — but then it grew even beyond that.
"When we see a block party request, we see it like the other neighborhood block parties — one or two streets and neighborhood kids," Robertson said in an interview. "I had no idea it was such a massive amount of kids."
Trick-or-treaters bring headaches
Residents say they believe their street is so popular because Whitney Road is not an arterial road. Dean Road and Bradley Road form the end caps, corralling trick-or-treaters into the three-block radius of Whitney.
This festive phenomena has grown into such a large event, it has led to a few problems.
Rosen said that to try and keep track of the number of kids, and control spending, she only hands out one piece of candy per child. Last year, she handed out 650 pieces of candy.
Not only are there a lot of children scampering down the street, but there's also plenty of traffic and parking headaches in the neighborhood.
There have been complaints from residents who couldn't get in and out of their driveways because of the barricades.
And when parents bring kids from outside the neighborhood, they have to park their cars on side streets. There's no parking on any village streets in Fox Point, and the streets are narrow, so this leads to concerns about emergency vehicles getting through.
And now, without the barricades and in an effort to protect local kids, Whitney Road residents are just hoping to have fewer kids coming out this year.
"I would just like to get the word out to see more of a community thing. I love the fact that we see kids from other neighborhoods in Fox Point come, but I don't necessarily want to entice kids from other areas," resident Jen Haraway said.