Walgreens provides goodies for distribution
New Orleans — There was a pirate loose at New Orleans Police headquarters on Tuesday morning, and he had his eyes trained on the mother lode of all booty.
Benjamin Guggenheim, 3, could barely look away from the mound of Skittles, M&Ms and suckers that dominated the table in front of Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas.
The candy framed Serpas’ announcement that for the third consecutive year his department has joined with Walgreens to give out free candy to the horde of pirates, goblins and ghouls that will take to city streets on Halloween.
Candy giveaways will occur at all eight of the city’s district police stations along with a special ceremony at police headquarters that begins at 5 p.m. There, police will hold a symbolic funeral for “Mr. Crime” complete with a coffin and all the accompanying regalia, Sgt. Michelle Stokes said. Costumed officers will have candy for the kids and crime prevention information for adults, she said.
Serpas praised Walgreens for joining forces with police and donating the candy for the effort.
“The generosity of Walgreens goes without saying,” Serpas said.
Serpas also said his department plans to step up patrols in the French Quarter, where last year a shooting left one man dead. In total, four people were killed across the city during Halloween last year, and 13 were wounded.
There will be 170 officers in the Quarter and Central Business District, and stepped-up patrols throughout the city, Serpas said. He’s hoping more officer visibility will serve as a crime deterrent, although he noted that during last year’s Quarter shooting officers were within feet of the gunman who was eventually arrested.
Halloween in the Quarter has become a major event in the city, and police have adjusted staffing to reflect that, Serpas said.
“It’s really becoming the playground for adults,” Serpas said. “We want to make sure we have a very large visible presence downtown.”
But, Benjamin wasn’t concerned with speeches or crime prevention. His only interest was candy.
First, he tried to convince his mother, a police employee, to pilfer some treats. When that was unsuccessful, he turned to Remi Braden, a police spokeswoman, who proved a more fruitful target. Using a mixture of insistent demands and undeniable cuteness, Benjamin was able to secure a sucker emblazoned with the face of Scooby-Doo. He didn’t stop there, eventually climbing atop the sturdy table to dive deeper into the pile and pose for the assorted cameras.
Officer Janssen Valencia said the prospect of free candy causes many children to forget all of the normal rules about safety, and that’s why parents have to be particularly vigilant. Valencia said that whenever possible, parents should accompany children as they make their rounds, and if children go out alone, parents should make sure they are wearing reflective clothing and have used the bathroom before departing. Parents should know the routes their children plan to take and consider giving them a wireless phone.
“Just use common sense,” Valencia said.
After the news conference, Benjamin calmly rode his mother’s hip enjoying his sucker and planning his candy conquests for Halloween night. When asked whether the sucker was up to par, Benjamin’s response was simple.
“It’s delicious,” he exclaimed.