SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. (PIX11) — Not having Halloween, for some, is a scary thought.
“It seems silly,” said Steve Tillim of South Orange. “We’re cheating the children out of something that is so fun and so geared toward the children, it’s just a darn shame.”
Tillim has a young child who goes to private school, but says if his kid was a student in South Orange-Maplewood Schools, right now, he would be angry.
According to a letter from the superintendent, the school district examined whether Halloween celebrations created unintentional financial hardships for families who struggled to afford costumes, or violated the dignity of some students culturally or religiously. Ultimately, they decided they won’t have Halloween celebrations and costumes during school hours – noting that schools can partner with PTAs do to themed events, outside of school hours.
“I firmly believe that if somebody really wanted to make a costume for their child – tin foil, all sorts of very affordable options are available to them,” said Tillim. “As far as religious pushback, if you don’t want your child to wear a costume, don’t send them to school with a costume.”
Governor Phil Murphy took to X, formerly Twitter, saying, ‘Seriously? We can’t let kids celebrate Halloween? Give me a break’
“I would say we’re in the year 2023 and to look at the equity issues,” said Carrie Gordon, a parent of two kids in the district who supports what the school district is doing. She says she has seen kids who don’t celebrate Halloween feel left out.
“It puts them to the side, it makes them feel uncomfortable and there’s plenty of opportunity within our towns to celebrate Halloween,” said Gordon.
While the school district has canceled Halloween celebrations during class, there are town-hosted Halloween events, like the popular Maplewood Halloween parade.
“Your kids are not being deprived,” said Gordon. “It’s time to move on and move up and be inclusive.”
The district says it anticipates all elementary schools will eventually have a fall or harvest-themed event on Halloween.