They don't come much more true, red Republican than Letitia "Tish" Colombi. The long-time mayor of Haddonfield is a steady bulkhead against a powerful Democratic machine in Camden County, always sporting a snappy red outfit when Gov. Chris Christie comes to town, as he has twice in the last five months.
So when Colombi takes a stand against a directive from Christie, it could just be a defining wedge issue in this combative presidential campaign season.
"The children of Haddonfield have overruled the governor and have decided they want to go trick-or-treating this week on Friday, as we have planned," Colombi said Wednesday, hours after Christie issued a directive banning trick-or-treating on Oct. 31 and suggesting it be held next week. He issued the directive in the wake of the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.
"I would never willingly defy an order from the governor, but I think it's more of a directive for towns that haven't finished cleaning up from the storm," Colombi said. "Besides, can you look a second-grader in the eyes and tell them they can't go trick-or-treating?"
Colombi also noted Haddonfield had postponed trick-or-treating on Tuesday, the day after the super storm that has claimed more than 30 lives in this country since it blew ashore near Atlantic City on Monday. Haddonfield had already scheduled trick-or-treating in the borough for 2 to 6 p.m. on Friday and the local historical society added a final weekend encore of its annual haunted house from 6:30 pto 8:30 p.m. to cap off the night.
Christie issued an executive order Wednesday declaring that no New Jersey town can hold trick-or-treating today, Oct. 31. If towns had planned to do so, they must move trick-or-treating and any public celebrations to Monday, Nov. 5.
Towns that already moved trick-or-treating to another day other than Oct. 31 can keep their plans, but state officials are still suggesting Monday instead.
“As governor, it is my responsibility to use all available resources of the state government to protect against the emergency created by Hurricane Sandy – postponing Halloween celebrations by five days is a commonsense and necessary step to accomplish that,” Christie said in a statement.
Colombi said a school break here all of next week week also factored in to the decision to trick-or-treat on Friday.
"A lot of families go away that week and we wanted all of the children to have a chance to do this," she said. "Besides, if the parents end up eating all the candy they bought we might have a public health crisis on our hands."
On a serious note, Colombi said the borough has worked hard to clean up the damage from Hurricane Sandy, with more than a dozen trees down in this 2.5-square-mile borough of nearly 10,000 trees in the public right of way. She said parents often accompany children while trick-or-treating and areas where there may still be some danger are clearly marked with caution tape.
Neighboring Haddon Township heeded the governor's order and postponed its trick-or-treating to Monday, Nov. 5, from 3 to 6 p.m. Collingswood decided to keep its Saturday hours of noon-4 p.m.
Another issue to note is that daylight saving time ends early Sunday morning and darkness will fall sooner next week.
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