Tricky to Make the Call on Treats with Weather, Posts, and Tweets Breathing Down Your Neck

By: Chris Mahlmann Last Updated: November 1, 2013

Leadership sometimes calls leaders to make the tough call on critical issues, like when the kids can run around the community picking up M&M's, Snickers, and Milky Way bars. It's not the kind of thing we are used to fighting for, like health care, crime, jobs, or education, but still "controversial" nonetheless, particularly among the most vocal of social media users who love to find fault with something you are doing.

Most years, the most challenging part of the call that area mayors have to make is whether to run Trick or Treating time from 5:30pm-7:30pm or 4pm-6pm. This year, with a multi-day-soaking covering the region, decision time hit each of the area leaders on Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

How bad is the rain going to be? Will the winds stay as strong as they are warning? What kind of flooding are we going to be seeing on the routes the kids are walking on? Some mayors checked in with their Police and Fire Chiefs, others checked with County Police, and some vetted their plans on Facebook to preview what they were thinking, all aiming to make the best call of whether to stay the course or postpone trick or treating from Halloween night to Friday night in case the storms were severe.

Being immersed in the vortex of social and online media, we often have a first row seat to view the winners and losers in the communication game and truly admire the leaders that jump directly themselves into the game, actively and directly communicating with their citizens no matter how messy that can at times be.

We have highlighted a couple of mayors here, not because they are wrong or right, but because they each had the stones to make a call, explain why they made the call, and then stay around to answer some of the questions and critiques of those decisions from some who could be politely described as "passionate critics", or more harshly described as "trolls". Seeing the heap of abuse that was thrown via Facebook and Twitter at each of these folks from people on both sides of the decision reminded me just why "Mayor of Anywhere" (other than my own house or business) will never be on my business card.

We have put their FB post/comment below, which range from brief statement to full disclosure, loaded with empathy or laced with sarcasm. Give each of these mayors a shout out for confidently stepping forward into that social media battlefield, stating your position and hanging around to take the beating, no matter which side of the weather coin they bet on.

Mayor David Uran - Crown Point

FB Friends - Each community sets their own times in which kids are going to knock door to door. The City of Crown Point is responsible for making our community safe for this holiday with i.e...Police/Fire/EMA to patrol the streets. If you don’t think the forecast for weather doesn’t play a huge part of our planning or we don’t pull our resources away from patrolling neighborhoods due to declining weather conditions – think again. Examples of those situations are a house or commercial fire caused by lightening, streets become on unpassable or drivable due to flash floods, or the number of vehicle accidents because of poor visibility. This goes without adding a couple thousand children in the mix in the streets as all the above happens or even worse involving them in the above. I don’t pretend to say we can eliminate all “what ifs”, but if we can reduce the % to tip the scales in our favor then we are doing the job that you elected us to do and nothing less would be acceptable.
With the decision to push back (not cancel) the Halloween Trick or Treating time to a more favorable weather condition has caused a great debate and conversation not only in Crown Point, but regionally speaking. Several other communities have followed suit because the Nation Weather Forecast calling for lightening, high winds, and heavy rains for this afternoon. There are some that are standing firm on the decision to keep it for tonight with the hopes all goes well. If this was baseball, softball, football, or soccer as examples- the games would be canceled and nobody would think twice because safety first. This despite that fact that a work schedule was modify so parents could attend the sporting event. But when we take a proactive approach to provide a safety – we are now “Over Stepping our Bounds”. Life is not a game in which we are allowed “mulligans” or “do overs” – please understand our only motive here was to protect our families of CP for being placed into a tough call because this is your child’s only opportunity to go out and Trick or Treat – a “Rain Check” has been afforded to all – just doing the job you entrusted me to do.

Mayor James Snyder - Portage

Trick or Treat is approved as an official function by the Portage Board of Works and Safety. When the Police Chief and Fire Chief advise of inclement dangerous weather predictions for an outside event that "could" put children in harms way we will ALWAYS error on the side of caution. Region Mayors have been texting each other in regards to the weather. As a result for parents who are inconvenienced by the change should feel free to go to Hobart or Valparaiso to trick or treat. Parents who would like to hit the jackpot could go to those communities (Valparaiso or Hobart)tonight and come to Portage tomorrow. It really is a no LOSE situation unless your are just progressively negative and the weather just makes you super cranky. Happy Halloween and please spread the words to the negative peeps.

Mayor Tom McDermott - Hammond

Happy Halloween everyone. I'm being asked, because of the inclement weather expected tonight, if Hammond plans to reschedule Halloween until tomorrow (Nov 1st)?
My answer to that---- Hammond kids are tough, Trick or Treating is on Oct 31st, rain or shine. That's what umbrellas are made for.

Mayor Blair Milo - La Porte

Trick or Treat is being rescheduled for tomorrow (Friday) night, 6-8 p.m. That doesn't have to change indoor events and perhaps kids can get two nights to wear their costumes. Consulted with the Police and Fire Chiefs as well as other regional mayors and it looks like the storms are continuing through the evening. That certainly may not end up being the case, but its the best info we have right now and having lots of people on the street in lightning events is never a good scenario. If it makes you feel better, keep taking shots at me. I can take it.