'Angel parties' for kids receive mixed reaction

Alternative Halloween parties to keep children safe from trick-or-treating has brought mixed reactions from school principals.

In an attempt to discourage children from roaming the streets at night, some church and community organisations have begun hosting light parties or "angel parties" in Taranaki.

Inglewood Christian Fellowship, through the Egmont Village School newsletter, last week promoted its "light party", that 350 children attended last year.

The fellowship could not be contacted for comment yesterday but Egmont Village principal Raewyn Rutherford said the event was separate from the school's curriculum but some children attended it.

Ms Rutherford said she did not believe in recognising Halloween but was happy to promote a safe alternative for parents.

"Certainly when I was a kid we were out until all hours playing in the street so to a certain extent this is wrapping kids up in cottonwool," she said.

Alternative parties gave parents a choice and if it were a safe choice then schools would promote it, she said.

City Life Church pastor Chris Lee has been hosting an angel party for local children since 1999.

Having grown up in the United States, Mr Lee said Halloween was quite a "dark" day traditionally and it emerged in New Zealand in only the late 1990s.

"Kids love to dress up and party and traditionally Halloween has quite a dark context so this is a great alternative," he said.

Stratford Primary School principal Kelvin Squire said life was full of risks and people would not get up in the morning if they worried about all its hazards.

"Parents . . . make decisions based on what they think is safe," Mr Squire said.

He said he would not have children knocking on people's doors, not because it was unsafe, but rather an invasion of people's privacy.

"People are driven by their own values and beliefs and for me I don't believe in celebrating Halloween," Mr Squire said.

Waverley Primary School principal Carwyn Caffell agrees that children trick-or-treating is not a safe way to celebrate Halloween unless parents are supervising.

"There's got to be a balance and I don't want kids to be kept in a bubble but things have changed in society and it's not as safe as it was 30 years ago," he said.

Keeping kids off the street might seem paranoid but it took only one incident, Mr Caffell said.

Taranaki Daily News