Halloween has always been a whole community experience. By that, I don’t mean just the community officials, businesses or the planned events at local centres.
I’m talking about the real community. The streets, homes and the people that are our every day culture.
But what I find lacking is the number of people sharing in the responsibility of being a Halloween participant — the people who drive their children to go trick or treating to neighbourhoods other than where they live.
Yes, I’ve heard the excuses — there’s better candy or more candy over there, the houses are closer together, my neighbourhood doesn’t have many homes giving out candy, most of the houses in our area are dark and I’m a single parent, I can’t do both.
Well, I am a single parent too, and yes, I actually used to go out with my child every single year. I never wanted to miss seeing her out there. I also bought candy and handed it out too. So how did I accomplish it all?
I asked family or a friend to come over and answer the door only while we were out, and guess what? They loved it. They really loved it.
After we came home, my daughter was excited answering the door. It added to the whole experience. She got to see even more kids in costumes, it gave her ideas about next year and there were the older kids that come by later.
They’re the best. They finish off the so called terro’ of Halloween with their more elaborate costumes — eyeballs hanging down their cheeks and blood dripping from their open wounds. It kept the whole atmosphere going, even after the candy counting was done. It also gave her pride to have her house special enough to be on the trick or treat route.
My daughter and I were in a very rural area before moving here, and yes, I drove her in to town to trick or treat and go to the community centre for apple bobbing and private ghost tours in our old small town. But we actually had to travel miles and miles up the highway. There simply weren’t any other kids in our area, and yet, we still decorated our yard each year with at least 10 jack o lanterns!
Then karma happened. We now live in a neighbourhood that receives your driven-over kids. I have a minimum of 400-plus kids on a dreary, wet and cold school night. Imagine how many I actually expect on a nice weekend? Were talking about almost 600 kids.
I love the whole Halloween experience but not the ever climbing costs of candying up many other neighbourhoods as well as our own, especially knowing these kids came from more than four blocks away and even a couple are from other towns.
When you drive over from your house-filled street, do you imagine you’re one of the few doing this or one of the hoards? Do you tell yourself this is for your kids benefit, or whew, thank goodness I didn’t have to buy all that candy?
The reason your neighbourhood is dark and unwelcoming for trick or treaters is because you, as well as other parents in your area, have closed up shop and come over to where I live.
There are only 13 school-aged kids that actually live on my street, and I know who they are. Using that number as a base, for my entire neighbourhood, I should have approximately 206 kids, not 500-plus. That’s almost triple.
If you want your neighbourhood to be welcoming with more participants, then keep your lights on and open your door to strangers on this one single night of the year, just like we do.
If you want your streets to be safe for your kids, join your kids on your streets.
If you want a community event in your neighbourhood, then plan a cocoa night for five kids with the help their parents of course, and tell spooky stories in your yard or in the cul-de-sac at the end of your street.
This is about taking responsibility for your part of being a Halloween participant, of your neighbourhood, within your community.
It’s truly up to you and your neighbours. This simple action can make your neighbourhood an all out fun and fabulous place too.
Stop making your area neighbour-boring. Get out in your yard, meet and greet your neighbours while decorating. The kids can make all of the decorations. That saves money for even more candy/
This is the absolute best time of year to celebrate being part of the community.