By Kelly Werthmann
DENVER (CBS4) – Halloween is a real treat for Ed and Susan Donovan. On the corner outside their Park Hill home, the couple sets up candy and warm apple cider just like they have for the last 25 years.
“It’s so much fun because these kids just keep coming back,” Susan said.
Their simple setup is called a “Ghost Post.” It is a neighborhood tradition they helped start to keep kids safe while trick or treating.
“It’s too bad that it took a tragedy to get something like this started,” Ed told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann.
The tradition began after what’s known as the “summer of violence” in 1993. Dozens of people were killed in Denver, including a young man shot on Halloween. Fear nearly cancelled trick-or-treating in Park Hill, until neighbors like Ed and Susan came up with the idea for Ghost Posts to keep watch.
“What happened is people signed up to become ‘ghost patrols’ on every corner,” Susan explained. “Parents sat out on the corner with their flash lights and cell phones that were bricks back then. They would talk and be visible and be watching the kids.”
While Susan stood watch while handing out candy and cider from their Ghost Post, Ed was among the other volunteer neighbors patrolling dark corners.
“There were a lot of dark houses around here back then,” he said. “We walked with flash lights and shined lights in the bushes and made sure there weren’t people back there because there was a real concern for safety.”
As years passed and those concerns went away, Ed and Susan’s Halloween tradition stayed the same.
“She did it by herself in a blizzard one year,” Ed said smiling at his wife.
It’s a tradition now shared across generations.
“Last year, a young lady showed up with a little girl and she said, ‘You know my parents used to bring me to your house for trick-or-treating and hot apple cider, and now I’m a parent and so I’m bringing my daughter here,’” Susan said.
Some kids who stopped by the Donovan’s Ghost Post as little kids still come by to visit the couple and get a warm cup of cider.
“I’ve been coming here with my friends since I was in third grade,” he said. “Now I’m a freshman and it’s still as amazing as ever.”
To show how much the community loves Ed and Susan, this Halloween neighbors came to them to say thanks and surprise them with a toast.
“Here’s to Ed and Susan,” a neighbor said after popping a bottle of champagne. “Wonderful neighbors and all the wonderful Halloween memories.”
And more memories are sure to be made as Ed and Susan plan to keep their Ghost Post going for years to come.
“We couldn’t do it without great neighbors and friends,” Susan said. “It so much fun!”
Kelly Werthmann joined the CBS4 team as the morning reporter in 2012. After serving as weekend morning anchor, Kelly is now Covering Colorado First for CBS4 News at 10. Connect with Kelly on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @KellyCBS4.