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Pumpkin patrol will keep an eye on Thruway for Halloween pranks

State troopers and more than 300 volunteers from 19 counties will be watching the Thruway system on the nights of Oct. 30 and Oct. 31.

The Pumpkin Patrol – designed to prevent roadside pranks and keep travelers safe – is marking its 38th Halloween in a service.

It initiated in 1976 by Katherine St. Jacques of Fort Johnson in Montgomery County and later adopted for the State Police crime prevention program in 1990.

St. Jacques initiated the volunteer effort because as she was talking to a truck driver on her citizens band radio, the windshield of the trucker’s vehicle on the Thruway was struck by an object thrown from an overpass on Halloween and the driver was injured from broken glass of his windshield.

That prompted St. Jacques and two of her friends to stand watch on three overpasses that crossed the Thruway in the Fort Johnson area, that Halloween time.

Troopers of the Thruway Division will be assisted by volunteers monitoring overpasses and reporting any unusual activity and law enforcement agencies, with troopers keeping watch for other violations including speeding, driving while intoxicated and operating mobile electronic devices while driving.

“Troopers will be out in full force monitoring any unusual activity, plus patrolling roads, bridges and exits to help minimize any potential hazards to motorists," said Trooper Matthew Izbicki, public information officer for Troop T. ”And as part of this effort, Troop T will also patrol for intoxicated drivers and conduct seat belt and cell phone checks.”