'Pumpkin Patrol' returns to Carbondale to ensure safety of trick-or-treaters

'Pumpkin Patrol' helps trick-or-treaters in southern IL stay safe

Proving to be more resilient to the test of time than everything from tear gas doused riots, to decade-long alcohol bans, a volunteer effort returned to Carbondale this Halloween for the 24th consecutive year.

A small team of eager-looking students and Carbondale residents started Monday, October 31 at the police station, in the very same room used as a command post by authorities for the investigation of serious crimes.

"It's not your duty to apprehend criminals," Public Safety Officer Randy Mathis advised the newly minted members of the 2016 "Pumpkin Patrol."

"It's your responsibility to be our eyes and ears."

After the briefing, members were given reflective orange vests and a contact sheet for the police department, which they would then use as they patrolled Carbondale residential neighborhoods during trick-or-treating hours.

"Anyone can do it," Patrol member Alex Robertgueeston said. "If you see something suspicious let someone know. Let the police know. We're actively patrolling so people know there are other people out there besides law enforcement, looking out for the kids."

Trick-or-treating may well be a sport in the City of Carbondale, as well as the act of preparing for said trick-or-treaters.

David Robinson, a resident of eastern Carbondale, has provided a heavily decorated sidewalk-side grill-out to parents every year since 1999.

"We decorate real big and stuff mainly for the kids, but for the parents too," Robinson said as he tended to around two-dozen hot dogs on the grill in his front yard. "We give the adults a hot dog, chips and stuff so they have a treat too… they've gotta walk, so they need something."

By consistently giving each child only one piece of candy, Robinson in 2015 was able to deduce more than 1,200 trick-or-treaters had visited his home.

Police directed the "Pumpkin Patrol" to start their tour of duty at Robinson's house this year due to expected high volume, but Robinson said he didn't mind the company.

"A safe Halloween is a good one," Robinson said. "In case something happens, I want to make sure I'm around them to make sure they're safe."

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