Witches, warlocks and other characters will have plenty of opportunities to show off their costumes during Halloween activities in the area Saturday.

Meanwhile, law enforcement and health officials urge taking precautions when trick-or-treating or participating in parades and other festivities. In addition to warnings about checking candy and assuring children are dressed safely, a health official said youngsters with any flu-like symptoms should stay at home, even though they may be eager to go out.

``Keep them home, hard as it is,'' Cynthia Moore, public health emergency services coordinator with the Otsego County Department of Health, said Friday. Schools recently have reported varying levels of illnesses, including cases that tested positive for swine flu, she said, and germs could spread through handling of candy.

Moore reiterated measures to prevent the spread of illness, including washing hands and covering the mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing.

Trick-or-treaters, their parents and all clock-watchers may have some extra sleep time overnight. With the end of Daylight-Saving Time, clocks will be turned back one hour at 2 a.m.

With the time change, the Firemen's Association of the State of New York urges residents to replace batteries in smoke detectors and in carbon monoxide detectors and to test the devices.

``A task that takes a minute or two can ultimately save so many lives,'' Thomas J. Cuff Jr., president of the association, said in a media release. National Fire Protection Association officials recommend testing the alarms monthly and vacuuming or dusting the detectors, which beep when the batteries are low.

Chenango Sheriff Ernest Cutting Jr. issued a media release earlier this week with tips for a safe Halloween.

Candy should be inspected, the release said, and unwrapped or suspicious-looking goodies should be thrown away.

Chenango deputies will accept suspicious-appearing candy for inspection between 5 and 10 p.m. Saturday. The sheriff's department is at 279 County Route 46 in Norwich.

Halloween activities scheduled for Saturday include:

In Oneonta, Phi Sigma will present a Halloween Walk and Family Fun Day at the State University College at Oneonta. The walk is to raise money for the National Kidney Foundation of Northeast New York; activities will include arts and crafts, trick-or-treating and a costume contest. Registration is at 11 a.m. and the walk is at 1 p.m.

In Oneonta, more than 30 Main Street area merchants downtown will have Halloween posters in their windows to indicate they are open to trick-or-treaters between 3 and 6 p.m. Nonperishable foods will be collected for the local food pantry at Sport Tech on Main Street and at Party Perfect at Clinton Plaza.

Lineup for the annual Halloween parade will start at 6 p.m. on Elm Street, with costume judging at 6:45 p.m. Starting at 7 p.m., the parade will travel along Main Street to Chestnut Street Extension and into the parking garage, where cider and doughnuts will be served.

In Oneonta, Alpha Omicron Pi at 17 Maple St. will have a ``haunted house'' from 6 to 9 p.m.

The Cooperstown, Farmers' Market will serve food from 4 to 6 p.m. in Pioneer Alley during Halloween festivities.

The Morris Rotary Club will host a Halloween party at Morris Central School from 6:45 to 8:45 p.m. Trick-or-treating in the village will be from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Boy Scout Troop 3 will sell hamburgers and hot dogs and accept food bank donations between 4 and 7 p.m. at the Morris Firehouse.

Meridale Fire Department's Halloween party will be from 6:30 to 9 p.m. with food and a costume contest.

In Maryland, Word of Faith Christian Family Center, at 6568 State Route 7, will host ``Heroes Unmasked'' from 6 to 8 p.m. Games, crafts and refreshments are planned.

In Sherburne, the Rogers Environmental Education Center will present a program on ``creepy crawly creatures'' at 11 a.m.

In Gilbertsville, the Butternut Valley Grange community Halloween party will start at 3:30 p.m, including costume contests, music, hayrides and refreshments.

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