Candy is back on at this year’s Grand Day Parade in Anoka, following weeks of backlash over a recent decision to ban the sugary handouts in a city billed the “Halloween Capital of the World.”
Anoka Halloween Inc., the all-volunteer nonprofit that puts on the north suburb’s annual festival and its three parades, announced its decision to reverse the parade candy ban in a Facebook post Sept. 8. The organization cited a “strong recommendation” to repeal the rule from city leaders.
City officials sent a letter last month urging the Halloween committee to reconsider its much-debated candy rule. Event organizers say it stemmed from safety concerns over growing crowds and kids mobbing moving vehicles to retrieve treats.
Anoka City Manager Greg Lee said city staff met Thursday with Liz McFarland, the Anoka Halloween parade chair, to discuss the committee’s concerns.
Lee said pedestrian gates will be added along the parade route, with candy handouts allowed only over the top of those gates. Volunteers and parade float escorts will also focus on keeping kids back from moving vehicles.
Event organizers say they still need adult volunteers for the parade, which will be on Oct. 28 at 1 p.m. Those interested can e-mail Anoka Halloween Inc. at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Candy makes a parade for the little guys,” Council Member Mark Freeburg said. “If there wasn’t candy, some people said they weren’t going to come.”
“Kids really look forward to getting a piece of candy,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about.”