Lower Merion School District cancels Halloween parades over safety, inclusivity concerns

BALA CYNWYD, Pennsylvania (WPVI) — A Montgomery County school district is canceling its annual Halloween parades at its elementary schools over safety and inclusivity concerns.

The Lower Merion School District has been holding these parades for more than 50 years.

However, school administrators sent out letters to families at all six of its elementary schools last week saying the parades will not happen this year.

Some parents are upset over the decision, while others are relieved.

“They’re great. They’re fun and it’s the anticipation… Everybody talks about the costumes that they’re going to wear,” said Linda Joseph, a parent in the school district.

She says she has fond memories of watching her older kids in the parades and she’s upset her youngest won’t have the same chance.

“I feel like it’s just crossing the line and where does it end? So, next people are going to be offended by pumpkins? So we’re going to take away pumpkins or jack-o-lanterns or pumpkin carving?” asked Joseph.

The district says safety is the main concern. The parades are outside and the district can’t control or screen who comes to them.

“We all saw what happened outside of a football game at Roxborough High School just a couple of weeks ago,” said Amy Buckman, the director of school and community relations for the district.

“So we continue to reevaluate. We continue to work with local law enforcement and county experts about what’s best,” she said.

Buckman says the other issue is not everyone celebrates Halloween, and those kids have had to sit in the library in the past during the parades.

“We looked at all of that and we said, ‘Are the parades really that important to the students?’ And the answer we came up with is not really,” she said.

“There’s danger in every possible venue in every possible way. So what are you going to do? Cancel everything? I don’t know,” said parent Rachel Gutman.

Some parents are disappointed, saying the parades are nothing more than a fun activity for the kids. Others, however, think the district made the right call.

“I think it’s more inclusive that there’s not a Halloween parade. I totally understand where the district is coming from in terms of the children’s safety and the fact that many parents can’t attend the parade,” said parent Amanda Hershon.

The district says kids will still be able to dress up on Halloween. Instead of a parade, there will be fall-themed activities in the classroom.

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