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Move Halloween celebration date? Utah resolution proposes permanent Friday designation

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Cade, left, dressed as Abraham Lincoln, Jr., and Rudy and Ryan, dressed as skeletons, get Halloween candy from Valerie Trull, right, at Together We Shine in Ogden on Oct. 31, 2022. A proposed resolution seeks to have Halloween events held on the last Friday of every October.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

When Halloween fell on Monday last year, Majority Assistant Whip Kirk Cullimore's children dressed up in a costume for a school Halloween parade the Friday before, and nothing on the actual holiday itself.

"The parents at my kids' Halloween parade actually approached me and said, 'Hey, we should do this every year,'" said Cullimore, R-Draper. "It should just be on Friday."

It was quite possibly the turning point for an idea that had been building up for some time based on ongoing feedback from parents. When should Halloween be celebrated?

Halloween is most certainly marked as Oct. 31 on the calendar yearly; however, the day of the week it falls on sometimes leads to confusion for many Utah families, especially over the last few years. Some families, especially in more predominantly Christian communities, choose to participate in trick-or-treating on another day when it falls on a Sunday. Sunday is also a school night, as is the case if it lands on any day between Monday and Thursday nights.

That's why Cullimore is proposing a new resolution that could settle the debate once and for all: Celebrate on Friday.

SCR5, backed by Cullimore, encourages Utah communities to bump Halloween festivities, like trick-or-treating, to the last Friday in October every year.

The proposed resolution states that there are "several drawbacks" when the holiday falls on a school or work night, placing "a lot of stress on both parents and children, having to return to school or work the following day," with families that have young children often taking their kids trick-or-treating "past their bedtime on a school night." It adds that educators "struggle to teach our children" the next day when this happens, too.

Cullimore told KSL.com on Thursday that these are all issues he's heard from plenty of parents and teachers over the past few Halloweens. The proposal aims to get Utahns on the same page as to when to hold Halloween events.

"The thought (is) we're not so presumptuous that we're changing the date of Halloween, we're just changing when we might celebrate Halloween," he said. "By making it on Friday, the thought is the kids can still dress up in school on a Friday, do their Halloween parades and Halloween parties, and then they're already dressed up and can go trick-or-treating on a Friday night, where we've got the weekend to work it out and be ready to go back to school on Monday."

Employees at businesses could also do the same, to follow along, given that Friday can be "less disruptive" to a typical schedule, he added.

Since Halloween falls on a Tuesday this year, the resolution would encourage communities to hold events on Oct. 27. And in 2024, it would be celebrated on Oct. 25, because Oct. 31 lands on a Thursday next year. It would be celebrated on Halloween night in 2025, since the actual holiday falls on a Friday that year.

Cullimore adds that the resolution wouldn't cancel anybody's plans to celebrate on Oct. 31, either. In theory, it could mean more opportunities to celebrate Halloween some years — including the Friday before and the actual holiday.

The proposed legislation is one of the hundreds of prospective laws and resolutions that will be discussed during Utah's 2023 legislative session, which begins next week. Cullimore said he's already heard mixed feedback from colleagues, particularly more positive reviews coming from lawmakers with young children, about his proposed resolution.

But the lawmaker also concedes that it's not the most pressing issue, so he's not concerned if it isn't approved by the March 3 deadline.

"This is definitely not the most serious thing that we're going to be contemplating during the session, it's just an idea and a resolution that you can throw out there," Cullimore said. "If there's widespread support, then great, let's do it. If not, the world will keep moving. It's OK."