“Halloween gets a bad rap,” said the Rev. John McCoy, pastor at South Side Christian Church.

Of Scottish descent, he said many of the seasonal traditions were actually based on ways to trick evil.

Meanwhile, Kokomo Christian School skips over Halloween and is focusing on Thanksgiving, said Administrative Assistant Suzette Randall. And many area schools opt for fall or harvest parties over Halloween celebrations.

While some continue to enjoy the ribaldry of All Hallowed Eve, various community sectors are shying away from the day’s traditional or supernatural aspects.

Schools harvest fall parties

Taylor Primary School classes conducted their own fall parties, said Principal Lucy Schmidt.

She said the school years ago did have Halloween parties. She acknowledged some people “had some issues with ghosts, things like that.” The school board also approves winter and Valentine’s Day parties.

This year students were welcome to dress up as their favorite superhero or book character, but that was tied into a week-long anti-drug campaign, Schmidt said.

“Parties give kids a little break,” said Greentown’s Eastern Elementary Principal Linda Stephenson, noting their students enjoy harvest parties.

While religious considerations were one of the reasons they nixed Halloween parties, but in general, she said, the school doesn’t necessarily pay a lot of attention to parties and their respective factors — such as dressing in costume. They’re time-consuming and can take away from attention to studies, she said.

Although unrelated to Halloween, she said she knew of schools that would let students dress up on Career Days, i.e. as a nurse or firefighter.

School’s objections

“We, as Christians, don’t believe in ghosts and goblins,” Randall said.

They don’t forbid students to talk about Halloween or trick-or-treating plans, and Randall said she’s sure there are students who do trick-or-treat. But the holiday’s not discussed, and the school tends to focus on Thanksgiving.

At Christmas, the school focuses on celebrating Christ’s birthday, she continued, and students will engage in charitable activities, such as collecting warm clothing for the needy.

McCoy doesn’t mind

South Side Christian Church annually conducts “Trunk’NTreat,” which McCoy said provides a safe Halloween environment. Church members at the East Markland Avenue house of worship bring their vehicles to the parking lot, where they distribute treats to costumed youngsters.

McCoy said he doesn’t have objections to the holiday, noting many of the seasonal traditions were based in ways to trick evil.

In Celtic traditions, jack-o’-lanterns were designed to scare off or divert evil spirits, he said. Masks and costumes were meant to fool spirits; food placed outside the door would make spirits pause there and not enter homes, the pastor said.

While some may consider the holiday satanic, “it’s just a time for fun,” he said.

Tom Carey may be reached at (765) 454-8560 or via e-mail at tom.carey@kokomotribune.com

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