(NECN/WMAQ: Anthony Ponce) - The Halloween spirit is alive and well on pretty much every block in Skokie, Illinois, but this year that spirit won't make its way into the hallways of District 69 schools.
District officials have canceled this year's Halloween festivities.
In a September 20 letter to parents, Superintendent Quintin Shepherd explained the decision wasn't made lightly.
"Many students cannot afford costumes and there is an economic disparity," the letter reads. "We also have students that are unable to participate for religious or cultural reasons."
In past years, Shepherd said, those students had to sit in another room, and every year, he said, the number of kids who can't participate grows.
The rationale came as somewhat of a surprise to Skokie parents.
"When I was a kid, Halloween was totally 'DIY'," said Laura Whitlock. "You could go out and buy a Scooby Doo costume, but it was a lot more fun to make your own and it didn't cost that much."
"I don't know how many people associate it with any type of religion," said parent Dave Charles.
Parents also are frustrated District 69's decision to cancel the in-school costumes, candy and Halloween party was made without residents' input.
Shepherd defended making the decision without input, saying, "the community input process does not always represent the diversity found within the district."
That came as a disappointment to Whitlock, who looks forward to sharing the holiday with her kids.
"To cancel any school activity, especially something that's as popular as the Halloween party, without any parental input, that doesn't foster a spirit of community."