Halloween paintball tradition around the corner

Local youth are getting ready to take on their local police force in Ucluelet’s annual paintball showdown.

Detachment commander Sgt. Jeff Swann started the Halloween tradition when he arrived in Ucluelet in 2009 and he is excited to see its sixth appearance.

“We go out there and run around in the bush for 3-4 hours,” he said. “It’s always just a fun, adrenalinefilled day.”

Swann began the event as a fun way for police to interact with local youth and also as an opportunity to speak with the kids about staying safe Halloween night.

After holding 2009’s inaugural event, Swann was shocked the next morning to find zero reports of illegal Halloween mischief.

“I’ve worked in other communities where you staff Halloween night with lots of officers and you’re seizing fireworks, seizing alcohol, stopping kids with eggs, and all sorts of issues and pranks that are going on with Halloween,” he said.

He said 2009’s event spawned five straight incident-free Halloween nights and he’s hoping this year will mark a sixth.

“To have five crime-free years in a row under our belt is pretty spectacular,” he said. “That speaks volumes about this community, the youth in this community and the leadership at the schools that are working with the kids.”

The Ucluelet Co-op donates food to the event’s barbecue and the Canadian Rangers volunteer to do the barbecuing.

Swann is hoping to make this year’s event more special by offering gifts to the youth who participate and is asking local businesses to donate gift cards to the cause.

“Just to have a bit more of an oomph to the evening and as a way of saying thank you to the youth,” he said.

“A little bit more incentive to keep them on the straight and narrow…Something to celebrate the kids and keep them pushing forward.”

He said the Ucluelet RCMP enjoys interacting with local youth throughout the year through a variety of activities like intramural sports, which Ucluelet Secondary School vice principal Mike Rhodes helps organize.

“The community of Ucluelet has to be so proud of our youth in this town,” Swann said. “They’ve got their heads on right.”

He is confident local businesses will answer his call for support by offering gift-card donations.

“They are always so supportive,” he said adding last weekend’s Cops for Cancer fundraiser at Fetch Restaurant brought in over $4,000.

reporter@westerlynews.ca