Early Wednesday afternoon, Charlotte City Council member Tariq Bokhari saw some social media rumblings about Halloween night on Thursday in Charlotte. Not only was there rain in the forecast, it was severe rain. Was there any possibility, some asked, that the holiday celebration could be moved?
Bokhari, who represents District 6, wondered the same.
It was a fair question. Halloween was about to be a washout, and moving trick-or-treating to a rain-free Friday or Saturday would allow families to plan for regular crowds and children to maximize their candy intake. Win-win.
But can a city actually, you know, postpone a holiday? Bokhari decided to find out. He called City Manager Marcus Jones, who said he had been a part of weather-related delays in previous jobs in other cities. But Halloween? Jones told Bokhari he would “brainstorm with staff.”
Meanwhile, Bokhari went on Facebook, where he’d posted a similar question to followers. There, NBC Charlotte chief meteorologist Brad Panovich told him that his concern wasn’t the rain but a threat of severe weather in prime trick-or-treating time. For that reason, most commenters were initially for the postponement idea.
But as the afternoon wore on, the dissenters showed up. I
“ I wasn’t aware the city had control over Halloween,” said one.
“I hate busy body politicians,” said another.
“What other holidays are the government going to conscript?” said another.
By the time the city manager called back and said his staff unanimously felt postponing Halloween would be a “slippery slope,” Bokhari already had the public’s loud answer: Neighborhoods should make the call, not government. Bokhari, who happens to be a Republican, was calling himself “big guv Tariq” and “Comrade Bokhari.”
As it turns out, at least one city - Lexington, Kentucky - moved Halloween from Thursday to Saturday in the face of similar weather forecasts. And Bokhari insists that it wasn’t an awful thing to bring up for discussion. “There are plenty of instances where government steps in for public safety,” he said. “We’re not talking about nationalizing a bank here.” We agree.
But in Charlotte, neighborhoods are figuring things out on their own. As of Thursday afternoon, several throughout Charlotte have moved trick-or-treating back a day or two. Which is probably as it should be.
As for Bokhari? “It was fun to be a part of,” he said. It also was a reminder on this Halloween that while the reach of government may be limited, our willingness to say “boo” sure isn’t.