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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Squirrel Hill business community is working to make sure Halloween is fun this year for the neighborhood’s children, as they all struggle through tough times in the days after immense heartbreak.
City Councilman Corey O’Connor attended a funeral for a synagogue shooting victim Wednesday morning. But, by the afternoon, as he and his mom walked through Squirrel Hill, the focus was changing in hopes of bringing a sense of normalcy to the grief-stricken community.
“Business owners are overwhelming with their support, and I think, for kids, it’s good to get them back into a routine. Tonight’s Halloween, we’re all going to be up here celebrating,” said Councilman O’Connor.
The exceptionally neighborly community, once home to Fred Rogers, is especially kind now.
At every corner, people ask, ‘How are you?’ The answers vary, after the anti-Semitic fueled mass killing last weekend at the Tree of Life Synagogue.
That’s why celebrating Halloween is taking on more significance.
“We’ve heard stories about kids finding it hard to go back to school this week, and for us, and for our merchants, that’s really troubling,” said Jamison Comes, of Undercover Squirrel Hill.
Every merchant is rolling out some sort of fun and unique flavor to enjoy, including lots of candy.
“Now is more important than ever for kids to have a safe place to come and enjoy the holiday,” he said.
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Resident Dafna Rehavia is an Israeli migrant who moved to Pittsburgh to escape violence in her homeland. She says this is not the Squirrel Hill she knows.
“I’m not feeling safe at the moment, to tell you the truth, no,” said Rehavia.
Residents say sirens are still difficult to hear, but Halloween night is a chance to get back to the Squirrel Hill they love.
“People are friendly, it’s a good place to be, it’s a safe place to be,” Rehavia added.
Pittsburgh Police patrol cars and bicycle officers are very visible throughout the community these days. They’ll be protecting the children and their families as they take part in the Halloween festivities, and find some lighthearted moments in a time of grief.