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Trick-or-treat inside, stay warm and dry

As temperatures drop and the sun sets by late afternoon, keeping trick-or-treaters safe and warm is as high on parents' priority lists as finding the perfect costume.

Some area retailers are offering a unique opportunity this Wednesday, Oct. 31, for young people to enjoy all the fun of Halloween without the inherent dangers of being out-of-doors after dark.

If you're looking to get in a little early trick-or-treating yet this weekend, Ecumen-Detroit Lakes is opening up its doors today (Sunday) from 2 to 3 p.m. Treats will be distributed by the residents and staff at not only Emmanuel Nursing Home, but also its senior living communities The Madison, Lamplighter Manor and The Cottage.

"Halloween celebrations have been going on at Ecumen Detroit Lakes since the beginning," said Sandy Lia, fund development director for Ecumen.

"We have photos that date back to the 1960s with employees and residents in costume," she added. "Employees have always been welcome to dress in costume and to bring their children in their Halloween costumes for the residents to see."

The Washington Square Mall in downtown Detroit Lakes will be open for trick-or-treaters from 4 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, said mall manager Dawn Olson.

"It's just like regular trick-or-treating," Olson said. "The kids can show up in costume and go from store to store, in the safety and climate controlled comfort of our mall. The stores will all have treats, on a first-come, first-served basis.

"We get a ton of kids coming through here every year," she added -- but also cautioned that all trick-or-treaters must be supervised by a parent or responsible adult.

"We all love seeing people in their costumes, especially the kids," Lia said. "Our residents just beam, looking at the kids all dressed up. It is so much fun."

Walmart will be offering not just one, but two trick-or-treating opportunities.

On Wednesday morning from 10 a.m. to noon, area daycare and preschool providers have been invited to bring their young charges to Walmart to show off their costumes and enjoy a variety of Halloween treats.

"Our personnel manager, Ann Welty, got together with the local Chamber of Commerce, and they got her in touch with a website for registered daycare and preschool providers," said Bronwen Griffith, a shift manager at Walmart who, together with Welty, organized the morning event.

"We sent them all a postcard inviting them to our Halloween trick-or-treat," she added.

The event gives younger children an opportunity to come in during the morning -- typically a quieter time in the store -- take part in the Halloween excitement and show off their costumes without having to go door-to-door and compete with their older counterparts for attention, Griffith said.

"When they come in the store, we will give each group a little treasure map, telling them all the places where they can stop and get candy throughout our store," she continued.

The employees -- many of whom will be in costume themselves -- will admire their costumes, clap and cheer and make the event as special for them as they can.

"It's indoors, it's warm, and they don't have to worry about asking, 'Do you have your gloves, your hats, your coats,'" said Griffith. "It's just a fun thing for us to do for those folks who work in that field (child care)."

That evening, Walmart will also be offering a community trick-or-treat for Halloween lovers of all ages, from 5 to 7 p.m.

"Anyone can come to our store and go around to all the service areas to trick or treat," Griffith said. "It's open to all ages, so moms and dads can bring their kids here in lieu of being out in the elements -- or in addition to their neighborhood trick-or-treating."

Trick-or-treating safety

Of course, many still choose to do the traditional neighborhood trick or treating, and with a few precautions, parents can make sure their young ones are just as safe going door to door as they might be in an indoor environment.

Minnesota's Mayo Clinic offers these tips for keeping kids safe on Halloween night:

• When choosing costumes, keep them as brightly colored as possible, size them correctly and use flame retardant materials. If your child will be trick or treating after dark, attach reflective tape to their costume, avoid the use of masks, pointed props like wands and swords, oversized shoes and high heels if possible.

• Consider getting together with neighbors to host a trick-or-treat party instead of going door to door.

• If going out, stay close to home. Don't allow children to go door to door in an unfamiliar neighborhood, and if your kids are younger than age 12, go with them.

• If your kids will be unaccompanied, establish a route and set a curfew, then review all safety rules with them, such as staying with the group, walking only on the sidewalk, approaching only clearly lit homes and never going inside a home. You may also want to give your child a cell phone for the evening should he or she need to contact you.

• Don't allow your child to snack on the treats they receive before you have carefully inspected them for signs of tampering. Discard anything that looks like it has torn packaging, is not properly sealed or appears in any way questionable. With young children, remove gum, peanuts, hard candies or anything else that could pose a choking hazard.

• Rather than allowing free access to the candy your kids have collected, ration it out in small portions and save the rest for later, to keep them from getting ill. Consider asking them whether they would like to swap some, or all, of the candy for a special outing, book or toy.

• If you will be driving anywhere, be on the lookout for trick-or-treaters darting out between cars, and pay close attention when leaving or entering driveways.

• If you are expecting trick-or-treaters to come to your door, turn the lights on outside, clear away anything from your walkway that they could trip over (wet leaves, hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decorations), keep your pets under control and out of the way, and consider handing out stickers, colored chalk or other candy substitutes.

Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454