Trick or Treat on Main Street is an exciting, safe way for several hundred children and their families to enjoy Halloween in downtown Oregon City.
But for members of the Oregon City Police Department, the big costume party also will honor Officer Rob Libke’s devotion to his favorite community celebration – the last one he took part in before he was killed in the line of duty three years ago.
OCPD is setting up a canopy on Liberty Plaza, adjacent to the Clackamas County Courthouse, where trick-or-treaters can not only grab candy, but also receive plastic replicas of Libke’s badge and temporary tattoos emblazoned with his badge number – 82.
A large photo will be on display, showing Libke in uniform, handing out candy to children.
“Rob really liked kids – and he especially liked Trick or Treat on Main Street,” said Police Chief Jim Band. “It was the last community event he worked for us.
“We certainly don’t want to forget the date of his death,” Band said. “But we also really want to commemorate how Rob lived.”
Libke, a 41-year-old reserve officer, was shot Nov. 3, 2013, while investigating a 911 call of an armed man seen outside a house fire. After other officers arrived, the gunman, 88-year-old Lawrence Cambra, who also set the fire after attacking his girlfriend, shot and killed himself.
Despite undergoing surgery, Libke died the following day. He was the first Oregon City police officer killed in the line of duty since 1906 and the 177th in Oregon history. Nearly 3,000 people attended a celebration-of-life service held for Libke at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland.
Libke’s wife, Wendy, was pregnant when he died. She soon delivered their daughter, Ziva Nicole, now almost 3 years old.
“Wendy and Ziva will be there for Trick or Treat on Main Street,” said Chris Wadsworth, OCPD’s community outreach and crime prevention coordinator. “So will lots of our officers – on-duty and off-duty – along with their families. Even retirees and their families come, too. This annual event to honor Rob has become a family day for our department.”
Wadsworth said the Police Department held the first remembrance at Halloween 2014, starting by displaying the photo of Libke surrounded by a crowd of eager trick-or-treaters.
Last year, the department displayed the Fallen Officer Memorial Highway sign later installed along U.S. 26 near the Nehalem River turnoff, where Libke loved to hunt.
This year, the Police Department’s Crime Prevention vehicle, a Subaru Outback donated by Lithia Subaru of Oregon City, will be on display.
Appearances by Mayor Dan Holladay, city commissioners and City Manager Tony Konkol also are on tap.
Trick or Treat on Main Street was launched in 2012 by the Police Department and the Downtown Oregon City Association. Every year, businesses along a seven-block stretch of Main Street, invite trick-or-treaters and their families to drop in from 4 to 6 p.m. Oct. 31 to show off their costumes and pick up goodies in a safe, supervised environment.
This year, the event is being sponsored by Stacy Spahr and Bret Pippett of Country Financial.
“The businesses get started early,” said Lauren Dees, Downtown Oregon City’s marketing coordinator. “There will several costume contests, and a scarecrow contest will be held the weekend before.
“It’s a good family-friendly reason to come downtown,” Dees said.
Naturally, the Oct. 22 scarecrow contest is sponsored by the Ghoul Gallery, a year-round Halloween-themed store on Main Street.
Tom Geil, Ghoul Gallery’s owner, readily admits that Halloween is his favorite holiday.
“We’re going to have lots of fun all week leading up to Halloween,” Geil said. “We’re going to have a Hearse Cruise and a celebration of the ‘Driven Dead’ – old beater vehicles that are still on the road although they really are dead.”
On Oct. 31, Geil will be displaying his own hearse -- “Hursula,” which he describes as a 1989 “Cadaverac Crypt DeVille.”
For details on the contests, visit the Ghoul Gallery website or call the store.
Meanwhile, City Commissioner Rocky Smith will be running a special Halloween edition of his Northwest Ghost Tours, offering a guided four-hour ride in a double-decker bus, visiting “haunted” sites in Oregon and Southwest Washington.
Chief Band said Officer Libke would have been pleased to see how Oregon City’s Halloween celebration has been growing and how much fun families are having with it.
“He really loved it,” Band said. “He really lit up when he saw the kids. That’s what makes Halloween such a good time to remember Rob’s enthusiasm and his commitment to the community, including the ultimate sacrifice he made in the line of duty.”