Despite the drinking festivities that can accompany Halloween weekend in Vermillion, many parents say they’re no more concerned for their young children than they would be in a town without a college like USD.
USD adjunct instructor Audrey Larsen has lived in Vermillion for about 10 years. Her 8-year-old son, Gabe, will be donning a Star Wars Boba Fett costume, and their dog will be Chewbacca, she said.
She and a few other parents will all take their kids trick-or-treating as a group Saturday night.
Larsen said she won’t be too worried when Gabe is old enough to go out on his own, as long as he stays in a group and is home by a certain time.
“So I think just setting up those things, I would worry less,” she said. “And I don’t worry more because it’s a college town, I think I would have the same amount of worry no matter where I was.”
Raised a small-town resident herself, Larsen said she feels safe in Vermillion.
“It’s still like a rural kind of environment, it’s not like you’re in this big city,” she said. “Everybody’s kind of had the same life experiences mostly and so I think that kind of contributes to the state of mind of people.”
USD assistant professor Silvana Rosenfeld, on the other hand, grew up in a big city. Which is why even though she believes Vermillion is a safe place, she’s still a little more wary, she said.
Rosenfeld will be taking her three young kids – a zombie, skeleton and a tiger – out trick-or-treating around Vermillion. She said they’ve been going on the same route for the past couple of years, because it’s a very decorated and social neighborhood.
“That’s one of the good things about the community here, a lot of people know each other,” Rosenfeld said.
Rosenfeld has been a Vermillion resident for four years.
“People feel that it is a very safe community for kids to go trick-or-treating,” she said. “I heard that the first year I moved here.”
Law enforcement isn’t anticipating any more criminal activity than on a regular weekend, Vermillion Police Department Chief Matt Betzen said.
Though the holiday falls on a Saturday this year, Betzen said the cold weather and “relatively benign” nature of past Halloweens doesn’t lead him to believe that this one will be any more problematic.
“I don’t know of anything that would perk up our alerts,” he said.
Even if there is a spike in house parties, Betzen said Vermillion is a “pretty safe environment” for trick-or-treaters, especially ones that are with their parents.
Larsen said for the most part, she likes the dynamic between USD students and her son, as they’ve run into each other in public several times.
“Even though it’s a ‘college town,’ I think it’s a good college town,” she said. “We have good students and a good student body.”