Halloween may not be an official holiday, but you'd think it was based on the gusto with which many families embrace this annual favorite.

Halloween may not be an official holiday, but you'd think it was based on the gusto with which many families embrace this annual favorite.

Each year, an increasing number of homes put up ever more elaborate "decorations" of graveyards, ghosts and ghouls in their front yards, ensuring an exciting night of trick-or-treating for our youngsters.

Getting into the spirit of the evening, the city's "Pumpkin Patrol" will hit the streets tonight from 6 to 8 p.m. for Beggar's Night. A dedicated group of city employees volunteer each year to make up the city's Pumpkin Patrol, driving slowly through neighborhoods handing out candy to children and providing a safe haven for those who are lost, hurt or in need of emergency assistance.

Each vehicle is equipped with two-way radios in the event that emergency personnel are needed. Residents can identify the Pumpkin Patrol by the bright orange plastic pumpkins placed over the beacon lights of marked city trucks.

Additionally, families are invited to stop by the new Fire Station 72 on Reed Road, which is serving at this year's "Pumpkin Patrol Station." Stop by to meet McGruff the Crime Dog and Sparky the Fire Dog. Kids can also get up close and personal with some fire and police vehicles, families can learn together about important safety and fire prevention tips, and there might just be a little extra candy for those dressed in their Beggars' Night costumes.

We encourage both children and parents to follow a list of safety tips that will help make sure everyone has fun this evening. These safety tips were developed to ensure the safety and enjoyment of those who choose to participate in this great event.

Families should work together to plan their trick-or-treat route and coordinate a trick-or-treat group.

Discussing the dangers of being out after dark and encouraging your children to stay together throughout the night will help keep everyone safe.

Parents should also make sure that they avoid dressing their children in costumes that are flammable, or that obstruct vision or movement. Providing your children with a flashlight or dressing them in light-colored clothing will allow drivers and other trick-or-treaters to see them and help prevent accidents.

I would like to thank our many city employees who are donating their time tonight to help keep the children in our community safe. The Police Division appreciates they are taking time away from their own families and neighborhoods on this special night in support of the community in which they work.

For a complete list of safety tips, visit the city's website or call the Police Division at 583-5097.

Happy Halloween to all.