Old Town Halloween not just for Westsiders anymore

       Looming signs portend record numbers of weirdly clad boys and girls extorting candy from Old Colorado City merchants this Halloween (Friday, Oct. 31). The photo above is from Old Colorado City’s Safe Treats in 2004, when it was estimated that a little over 1,000 kids 
trick-or-treated. This year organizers anticipate nearly three times that many.
Westside Pioneer file photo
       Lori Kasten, the annual organizer of Old Town's Safe Treats event, couldn't be more pleased. "I think it's going to be a success, if the weather holds," she said. "And even if it doesn't, they'll still come."
       Started around 1980 to attract Westside residents, the volunteer-run Safe Treats in Old Colorado City has grown over the years into a regional attraction.
       It is scheduled from 3 to 6 p.m. this year (along Colorado Avenue between 24th and 27th streets), with a costume contest at Meadow Muffins (open to ages 0-13, with prizes also for Halloweenish parents) starting at 4:30. For the first time, the Old Town Plaza parking lot at 25th and Colorado will be closed off, leaving room for Fire Station 5 with its fire truck, Smokey the Bear with his fire truck and booths set up by various business entities.
       Returning this year will be mascots from area schools and teams, while strategically located students from Holmes Middle and Coronado High schools will be handing out candy and school supplies to trick-or-treaters in areas where stores might be closed.
       As recently as two or three years ago, Safe Treats was attracting something over 1,000 kids, but Kasten said last year's drew as many as 2,500, while this year she's predicting "an easy 3,000 kids."
       The bigger numbers are expected for two main reasons this year - Oct. 31 is an off-day for District 11 students, and, led by the Zeal Group (the OCCA's recently hired marketing firm), the event is being promoted more widely than before, said Kasten, who's overseen the affair for the past 15 years. To some extent, she misses the early Safe Treats version - "It's kind of always been a Westside neighborhood thank-you." Still, she has no problem with "inviting the entire city," as she put it, as long as there's enough candy.
       That's not as funny as it may sound. For many merchants, Safe Treats is a major investment. Amounts of $300 to $500 are heard in typical conversations. "I don't want to see notes on doors, from merchants who had to close because they ran out of candy, or to have it be a huge burden on their checkbooks," Kasten said.
       Right now, she's feeling confident. Pikes Peak National Bank and the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) merchants group are again the major candy-funders, and Seiko Tran, a Zeal consultant, has pledged an additional abundance of goodies from various sources.
       "I think it's good for the area," Kasten said. "It's a feel-good event. People are down here with their friends and families. It's not threatening and we're not making them buy anything. I just hope they come back to shop, and I know they do."

Westside Pioneer article