Burbank’s first mayor, John W. Fitzgerald, has always been held in high regard but in September of 1972 Fitzgerald drew the ire of both kids and parents alike. In a move reminiscent of Burgermeister Meisterburger’s attempt to ban Christmas in the Rankin/Bass special Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town, Fitzgerald tried to ban Halloween in Burbank, or at least the custom of trick-or-treating.
In September of that year, Mayor Fitzgerald declared that trick-or-treating was in violation of the city’s solicitor’s ordinance and was therefore illegal. Fitzgerald was quoted in a Chicago Tribune article as saying, “Knocking on someone’s door and asking for a Halloween treat will be considered as an illegal form of solicitation.”
Fitzgerald gave a myriad of reasons why he was banning the popular custom in Burbank saying that some children were being harassed by teen-age toughs, while others had been given treats laced with drugs or razor blades hidden inside them.
Fitzgerald was also upset over the previous year’s festivities. Fitzgerald told the Tribune “Halloween was on a Saturday [sic] last year and it caused several days of turmoil. Kids were knocking on doors from 4 p.m. Friday until 7 p.m. Sunday.”
Fitzgerald maintained that the parents of Burbank always wanted to do away with trick-or-treating and said, “They have never been able to tell their children not to do it because all of the other kids were. Now we have taken them off the hook. They can tell their children it is against the law.”
Fitzgerald suggested supervised activities by the parks or schools as an alternative to trick-or-treating and arranged for the City Council to discuss such ideas.
The City Council met Wednesday, September 27, 1972 at Maddock School to discuss the issue. The Tribune reported that six children stood outside with signs that read “Don’t ban Halloween.” About 90 residents attended the meeting and were told to submit ideas to the chairman of the Halloween committee.
A motion by Alderman George Neiman was passed at the meeting to take no action about Halloween and the matter was tabled. Ultimately the City Council passed a resolution allowing trick-or-treating on Halloween but limited the hours until 6 p.m. and restricted the activity to within two blocks of the child’s home.
Gaines, William (1972, September 24). "Trick or Treating Crime in Burbank." The Chicago Tribune, p. S3.
Gaines, William (1972, October 1). "Burbank Halloween Stand Blasted." The Chicago Tribune, p. S6.
Gaines, William; Connor, Thomas (1972, October 29). "For Suburban Halloweens Too Many Tricks; Treating Trimmed." The Chicago Tribune, p. B3.
"Action Express" (1972, November 7). The Chicago Tribune, p. A1