La. parish bans Halloween on Sunday

October 27, 2010

NEW ORLEANS (RNS) Some families may be debating whether to send kids
out to trick-or-treat on Sunday night, but there's no debate in
Louisiana's Livingston Parish, where local laws forbid the observance of
Halloween on a Sunday.


This year, for the first time, in unincorporated parts of the parish
of 120,000, Halloween is on Monday, Nov. 1. Trick-or-treating hours are
6 to 8 p.m. on the prescribed day, and violators risk a fine of up to
$500 or up to 30 days in jail.


A number of parish officials were unavailable for comment, but news
accounts indicate that for years parish authorities have legislated when
to observe Halloween. And it has often tied them in knots.


Christian groups have resisted public support for Halloween on
Sunday because of its associations with the occult.


Public safety is part of the concern; in 2003, parish officials and
city leaders in Denham Springs moved up Halloween a day to keep it away
from Friday night football.


Shortly after Halloween 2004, the Parish Council decreed that in
unincorporated Livingston Parish, Halloween will be at the prescribed
hours on Oct. 31 -- unless it falls on a Sunday, as it does this year,
and then it's on Monday.


All this has attracted the attention of the American Civil Liberties
Union, which has dispatched a letter to parish officials telling them
they were violating neighbors' constitutional rights to walk their
streets and ask for candy any day they pleased.


The ACLU also warned of the threat to the religious freedom of
anyone wanting to celebrate Halloween as a religious feast -- although
trick-or-treating is not part of Wiccans' observance of the day.