Hunts Point Responds to Halloween Crime Fears

Posted on 08. Dec, 2009 by in Uncategorized

By Emily Lavin

Jade Rodriguez has one thing on her mind this Halloween.

“It’s all about the candy,” said Jade, 12. “I can’t wait to stuff my face with chocolate. “

But instead trick-or-treating on Saturday, Rodriguez will be home with her candy before most kids have put on their costumes—without having rung a single doorbell in her Hunts Point neighborhood.

“I won’t let her go around to any of the houses here at night,” said her mother, Anna Bonilla, 40. “I don’t trust the neighborhood on Halloween. Things get too crazy.”

Fear of crime has stopped many parents in Hunts Point from taking their children door to door on Halloween night. Instead, kids trick-or-treat in the early afternoon at the businesses on Southern Boulevard, where owners are waiting to hand out candy

“We like seeing little kids happy,” said Jason Aponte, the manager of Game Express, explaining why he plans to hand out mini chocolate bars, lollipops and other candy to trick-or-treaters that stop by his store.

His assistant, Angel Vargas, leaned over the counter.

“And if we didn’t, we’d probably get egged,” said Vargas, 32, laughing.

While Vargas made light of the teenagers he’s seen throw eggs at people, businesses and cars, he said it’s one reason people don’t feel safe walking their children around the neighborhood.

But many parents said the trouble goes beyond messy Halloween mischief.

“It can get pretty bad. There are still a lot of gangs around here. I’m afraid my kids will run into someone with a gun or a knife,” said resident Abigail Cabrera, 35.  The holiday brings rowdy groups of people out into the streets, she said. “I don’t want my kids to be caught in the middle of any fights.”

This year, Cabrera said she will bring her three children to Southern Boulevard right after they get out of school. Thousands of kids will trick-or-treat at the shops there, business owners said.

“We get so many kids, you wouldn’t believe it,” said Trinidad Morales, who manages Fabco Shoes. “This year I’m going to have to tell them to make a line outside the door.”

Morales estimated she’s already spent about $25 on candy for Halloween, but will probably spend $15 more before Saturday. Like Morales, most of the business owners on Southern Boulevard pay for the candy out of their own pocket, and they make sure there’s enough to last all afternoon.

“This is a tradition here. It makes people happy,” said Mark Rofd, the owner of Just for You. Rofd said he usually makes two or three trips to the corner bodega to when candy runs out. “So we always want to give candy, 100 percent.”

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