By Julianne Pitcher
Meridian Times staff writer
The annual open houses of the police and fire departments make for a fun Halloween for Meridian residents.
With the open houses taking place on Saturday, Oct. 27 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., locals could choose to celebrate the holiday at any of the four locations. The township’s Fire Department showed its Halloween spirit at three stations, 2150 Clinton Street, 2140 Haslett Road and 3711 Okemos Road. The Police Department also welcomed residents at the Public Safety Building at 5151 Marsh Road.
Police Officer Chrissy Scaccia, who is assigned to the School and Community Resource Unit, said, “The community can tour the Police Department, meet McGruff the Crime Dog, see the equipment that police use to do their job, sit in a police car or motorcycle, and enter to win prizes.
Sandy Vietti, who brought her granddaughter, Fiona, to the open house said, “I think Fiona’s favorite part was McGruff the Crime Dog. She definitely has a crime dog crush after today.”
At the fire stations, locals could tour a fire truck and ambulance, or try on a firefighter’s helmet, said Fire Inspector Mark Hornberger.
When asked what the best part of her day was, 5-year-old Maria Possanza said, “I like going in the fire truck.”
Scaccia said, “At the event, children are given a bag with a glow stick and candy, they can register for prizes, and there is also complimentary apple cider and donuts.”
Hornberger said, “Because we are promoting safety, the glow sticks are given to the kids to help make them visible while trick-or-treating.”
The open houses are free and costumes are encouraged.
“Most children do dress up in their Halloween costumes. Occasionally, we have some adults dress up, as well,” said Scaccia.
The event brings the community and the police and fire departments together in a family-friendly atmosphere, while promoting safety for children during Halloween, said Hornberger.
About 600 people attended, including parents, grandparents and children of all ages.
“It’s great to be able to spend the day with my grandkids and watch them get excited for Halloween,” said Dave Vietti, a local resident who attended the event with his wife, daughter and granddaughter.
Because so many locals enjoy the open houses, all the planning done by the Police Department’s School and Community Resource Unit since September is well worth the effort, said Scaccia.
Hornberger said, “The Fire Department has hosted Halloween open houses since the middle 80s.”
Scaccia said, “The Police Department open house has been happening at this location since 1992 when the building was built. However, a similar event occurred prior to that at the Township Hall, located next door.”
Although this is the only event of this size that the Police Department offers, it does occasionally host group tours and presentations to bring the community and the safety departments together in a similar way, said Scaccia.