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Norwalk's Trick-or-Treaters Defy City

NORWALK, Conn. – Katrell Clay's mom said he was part of a "skeletal crew" walking past the graveyard to Bruce DeNunzio's door Monday night — except the crew wasn't that skeletal. Hundreds of children roamed the neighborhood near Brookside Elementary School in Norwalk, some of them greeted by Pamela Bell with a cry: "You can't cancel Halloween!"

The sentiment was repeated by many families in defiance of the city's safety-minded request that people wait until Saturday for trick-or-treating. Ed Phillips, a reader of The Daily Norwalk, said many kids were also out in the Norwalk Hospital area. State Sen. Bob Duff reported children were trick-or-treating in West Rocks, although fewer than usual.

Mayor Richard Moccia "strongly urged" residents to wait because of the downed wires and fallen trees in a text message sent Monday afternoon. That didn't earn him points with 16-year-olds Tiffany Monsalve, Michele Petrucci and Paola Monvalo, even if it was their safety he was concerned about.

"Tell him you did not stop us from trick-or-treating," they said, expressing a wish to visit Moccia for candy. Vanessa Ochoa, 16, a compatriot, said she was "highly upset" that school would be open Tuesday. "You can't cancel Halloween and then have school," she said.

They had just left Joe Weber's Soundview Avenue residence. It was "more kids around here than I normally see," said Weber. He left to get more candy and avoided going down Michael Street on the way back because so many families were out.

Among the trick-or-treaters was Sam Nirschel, 7. His uncle, Joseph Nirschel, said there was no way the family would "cancel" Halloween. Sam's aunt Victoria agreed. "How can we say that to him?" asked Victoria Nirschel. No power lines or trees were down in the area, she said. Why not go?

The owner of one house said she hosts a party every year, so she and her friends can hand out candy. The message from the city came too late in the day to cancel and, "we're working folks."

Organ music played over a speaker at the home, but she said the place to go was across the street. Bruce DeNunzio had spooky music playing, too, and a fog machine to add to the graveyard ambience, but still he apologized. The decor was "a little light" this year because he had been to a wedding over the weekend and with the weather forecast he had hesitated to go to Stratford to retrieve more decorations.

What wasn't light? The number of trick-or-treaters. There were fewer cars on the street, he said, but not fewer children.

Moccia said that last year some children people came to his door and asked whether he was the mayor. He said, no, it was a Halloween costume. He couldn't play that trick Monday as there were no trick-or-treaters in his neighborhood, not far from Stew Leonard's. There were more people with power out there, he said, although his family was not among them.

Other mayors and first selectmen had gotten complaints about "cancelling Halloween," he said.

"It's the right call," he said. "God forbid one kid touched one wire, tripped on one branch or something, you feel guilty. You can't really cancel something that you don't control, you can just ask them. If they still want to go out there's nothing I can do to stop them."

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