Halloween Display Wrentham

Ghoulish, life-sized zombies, such as this pirate, adorn the front yard of a home at 291 South St. in Wrentham. (Staff photo by Mark Stockwell)

BOSTON - Local officials say there is no need for a proposed law that would change the date when Halloween is celebrated in Massachusetts, calling the plan a killjoy for young ghouls and goblins.

"Personally, I think the date of Halloween should remain the same as it is a universal holiday - it would be like changing Christmas to a Saturday," said Rep. Betty Poirier, R-North Attleboro. "The festival should remain celebrated on the 31st of October as it is celebrated across the U.S. on that date."

The bill - proposed by Arthur Boyle, a Pembroke selectman for 15 years and filed by Rep. Josh Cutler, a Duxbury Democrat - would establish the last Saturday in October as the holiday, "recommending that the people carry out appropriate celebrations on said day."

Cutler said he is "a bit torn" about the change.

"Having young kids, I know it isn't always ideal having Halloween on a school night. But, I'm also a believer in holiday traditions," he wrote in an email to the Statehouse News Service.

Boyle said a Saturday celebration "would make sense from a public safety standpoint," because trick-or-treaters would not be walking around in the dark when people are driving home from work.

But, Rep. Paul Heroux, D-Attleboro, said Halloween celebrations should not be determined on a statewide basis.

"I think that this is something that should be left up to the individual communities to decide if they want to do it or not," he said. "I don't think we need a state law."

While Oct. 31 is heavily celebrated throughout Massachusetts, nowhere is it bigger than in Salem.

The North Shore city is infamous for its 17th century persecution of "witches," and attracts tourists and hosts celebrations all month long.

Attleboro Police Chief Kyle Heagney said there might be sporadic incidents connected to after-dark Halloween trick-or-treating locally, but there's not enough evidence to warrant permanently changing the day of the celebration.

"Besides the City of Salem, I don't think police departments have an overly difficult problem operationally on Halloween," Heagney said. "I believe changing the celebration date to a Saturday would only be helpful for drinking establishments to increase revenue. But, everybody has a right to their opinion."

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