Election Section

Cities, fun parks continue with Halloween plans despite threats

By Eugene Tong The Associated Press
Wednesday October 31, 2001

WEST HOLLYWOOD — The most popular outfit at public Halloween bashes around the nation is expected to be a police uniform — but it won’t be a costume. 

After FBI Director Robert Mueller warned this week of the possibility of more terrorist attacks, law enforcement officials planned to increase their presence at public Halloween parties around the nation. 

More than 200,000 costumed revelers are expected to pack the city streets in West Hollywood on Wednesday night. Scattered among them will be 100 members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department — “a deputy on every corner,” said Sgt. Gary Griffith. 

“Obviously, based on all the media and the announcement coming out of the federal government, we have increased the number of deputies working the assignment,” Griffith said. 

Since the Sept. 11 terror attacks, fears of further violence have led police to focus on large gatherings of people, from airports to sporting events to shopping malls. 

In Miami, police planned to double their presence at the annual Coconut Grove Halloween block party, which draws as many as 15,000 people, said Delrish Moss, a police spokesman. 

Even that won’t be enough for some, said Chastity Medina, 27, who works in an accounting office at a Miami law firm. 

“None of my friends are going because they’re scared, and I am not going alone. They’re afraid some type of terrorist attack is going to happen,” Medina said. 

In New York, Halloween comes the same week as the annual marathon and the World Series. The Police Department said it will be security as usual for the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade, with 2,000 officers on duty. 

In San Francisco, city officials have tried to discourage partygoers from flocking to the Castro District. They have urged people to attend the city’s official Halloween event at the Civic Center instead. The predominantly gay Castro neighborhood’s Halloween festivities draw as many as 500,000 people. 

Terrorist threats won’t quench the Halloween spirit of Noah Bishop, a 22-year-old West Hollywood bartender. 

“The community has lived in fear of different, random stuff for so long, from gay-bashing to HIV. I think we’re over it,” Bishop said. “We’re just tired of living in fear.” 

Les Hall, a 27-year-old waiter who works nearby, said he isn’t taking any chances with his costume. He plans to wear a gas mask. 

“That way,” he said, “I’ll be ready for everything.”