Americans long have used petitions to try to solve the nation’s thorniest problems, and now a really weighty issue has landed atop the stack: moving Halloween to the weekend.
The change.org petition, addressed to President Donald Trump, wants the US to celebrate Halloween on the last Saturday of October instead of October 31. Nearly 40,000 people had signed it by midmorning Tuesday.
“It’s time for a safer, longer, stress-free celebration!” reads the petition, created by the Halloween & Costume Association. “Let’s move Halloween to the last Saturday of October!”
Holidays can be moved. For instance, Congress in 1968 declared that certain holidays – Memorial Day, Labor Day and Columbus Day among them – would take place on designated Mondays, thus creating a series of three-day weekends.
But Halloween is not a federal holiday, and the White House is under no obligation to do anything with the petition – though cementing a calendar change may not actually be its organizers’ intention.
What this is really about
A closer look reveals the petition’s real aim may be to get people talking about safety on Halloween.
It’s chock full of safety tips for the candy-filled day. The petition:
• reminds parents to talk to their kids about safety before they go out trick-or-treating;
• tells kids to carry a flashlight and a wear a costume with reflective materials;
• urges families to come up with a pre-planned route that children will take and asks that they stay on sidewalks and use crosswalks;
• and asks parents to trick-or-treat with their children, for safety and family bonding.
Responding to popular petitions became a thing during the Obama administration, which offered a reply to every petition on the White House website with at least 5,000 signatures. That meant the Obama White House answered questions including whether the US had contact with aliens (no) and whether the government would build a Death Star (also, no).
The Trump White House has a petition page online, too, and promises “an official update” within 60 days after a petition reaches 100,000 signatures.