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Detroit — As arson has decreased over the years during the three-day period leading up to Halloween, the city has announced it’s giving the holiday back to the children.

This year marks the first “Halloween in the D” celebration, shedding the Angel’s Night moniker, one that in the 1990s replaced Devil’s Night, the phrase adopted in the 1980s when the city experienced record levels of arsons.

“We feel we’ve made enough progress that we can make Halloween about the children and we’re really excited about that,” Mayor Mike Duggan said Wednesday at a press conference announcing the celebration.

“We got to the point where we said, 'why do we keep talking about this?'” he continued. “And so the people of the city volunteered and curbed the problem and now I think the people will come together and make Halloween special. Ten years from now, you’re going to have children who their only memory of Halloween is dressing up and trick or treating.”

Events are planned throughout the city on Halloween, including three haunted parks at Rouge, Chandler and Clark parks. A harvest fest will take place at Spirit Plaza on Woodward Avenue and "trunk-or-treat" events will be offered at all 12 Detroit Police precincts. Every fire station will open its doors on Halloween to pass out candy and offer children a look at the fire equipment.

On Oct. 30, there will be seven community meals — one in each district — to celebrate and recruit volunteers for year-round neighborhood radio patrols.

Neighborhood patrols may participate in patrolling during Halloween, but Fire Commissioner Eric Jones said he doesn’t expect the robust patrols of the past.

The shift from Angel's Night  – and the large force of volunteer patrols that came with it – has been at least a year in the making as officials and community members questioned whether the campaign was still needed.

Jones said that during the three-day period leading up to Halloween, there was an average of 50 fires total for 2015, 2016 and 2017. That’s a drastic drop from the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s when the city experienced hundreds of fires during the same three-day period, he said.

“We’re shifting, the city is transforming,” Jones said. “All of the block clubs, all of the investment in the city, the revitalization of the city and we felt that it was appropriate now to scale back and allow the children to enjoy this holiday … We’re glad to transition to a celebration.”

The event will be a boost for the residents, said Jimmy Settles, the city's group executive for neighborhoods. He believes people are cautious about the change but eager to see it happen. 

"All of a sudden, you get a burst of positive news," Settles said. "You can see people smile, but they're also apprehensive and hope it goes well."

The city has numerous sponsors for the event, receiving $20,500 in cash and in-kind donations. Ford Motor Company donated $5,000 and 150 Ford employee volunteers will sort candy and work at the haunted park at Clark Park. 

Volunteers are needed to donate candy, decorate their vehicles for the trunk-or-treat activities at the police precincts, or join or start a neighborhood radio patrol.

To volunteer for Halloween in the D, visit www.halloweeninthed.org or call (313) 224-4415.

cwilliams@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @CWilliams_DN

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