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Halloween Haunted by Sniper

Businesses, residents cope while preparing for Halloween.

Although Halloween displays abound throughout Vienna and Oakton, the celebration of Halloween in the shadow of the sniper has caused some to be more cautious than usual this Halloween. No parade and low pumpkin sales have characterized this year's Halloween.

"From what they tell me, the numbers are low this year," said Adam Giglio, who mans the outdoor pumpkin stand in the Oakton Shopping Center.

Local residents and businesses are reacting to the sniper attacks by canceling Halloween festivities or taking their festivities indoors. Vienna Town Council members decided this past weekend to cancel this year's Halloween Parade on Maple Avenue. The procession, scheduled for today, Oct. 23, would have been Vienna's 56th annual parade.

"The town canceled the parade because of safety concerns" for both participants and spectators, said Marie Kisner, Vienna's public information officer.

Another annual outdoor activity, pumpkin stands set up in area shopping centers, has also encountered challenges this Halloween. Giglio's pumpkin stand faces Route 123. He says few customers arrive to see his pumpkins. When they do come, they rush themselves. He has heard several parents tell their children to hurry up when looking at the pumpkins.

"People don't take their time to look around," Giglio said.

Even Giglio's family in Sharon, Pa., is worried about him selling pumpkins, Giglio said.

"My mom's a nervous wreck," he said.

Cox Farms, also located off Route 123, said business has been slower than usual. Although the weekends have been busy enough, the weekdays are lacking, especially at Cox’s pumpkin patch farm in Centreville. School groups had planned field trips to the Centreville farm, but because the Fairfax County Public Schools has canceled all field trips and outdoor activities, the numbers of those going to the farm during the week are lower than in past years.

"Most of the school groups have had to cancel," said Cox Farms employee Margot Doucette.

Although the news surrounding the sniper can change daily, Vienna Police Department’s chief Bob Carlisle says the Vienna Police have assisted area police departments in the sniper case. They have sent two of their detectives to the Fairfax County task force, and they have police officers present at the local elementary schools and shopping centers. They have also checked suspicious vehicles.

"We have probably stopped every white van in Vienna at least two or three times," Carlisle said.

Like his pumpkin-carving neighbors and trick-or-treaters, Carlisle says he hopes the sniper will be caught soon so life can return to normal.

"Let's hope we can catch him soon," Carlisle said.