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Friday, October 30, 2015


I remember Halloween as being a neighborhood celebration.  The trick or treating started around dusk, with little ones making the rounds with their parents.  After dark, the bigger kids age eight to twelve came out.  After nine o’clock the oldest kids, the teenagers, made the rounds.  By ten it was over. 

If you could not be home for the trick or treaters, you left a big basket of candy out and candy was taken on the honor system.  When you came home there was still candy in the basket.

The first round was taken up with talking to the parents (all from the immediate neighborhood) and guessing what each child was dressed as and which child was which.   Guessing the costumes was easy as the parents would mouth the answer if it was not obvious.  You always guessed the wrong child in each costume, no matter how obvious.  The little ones loved that you knew their costume and loved even more that you didn’t know who they were.  The little ones practically squealed “Trick or treat” with delight when you opened the door.

The second round of costumers answered with a more sedate “Trick or treat.”  They answered a few question but were intent on moving on to the next house as quickly as possible…collecting the most candy was a contest.  Whereas the little treater’s costumes were mostly store bought costumes of ghosts, witches, skeletons, or Disney characters, the second round of kids had homemade outfits.  They were football players, cheerleaders, hoboes or pirates.

The final round of kids, the teens, often had no costume at all.  Maybe a funny hat, or a store bought mask of the current President, but that was usually tilted up on the top of their head.  They often just held out there bag and said nothing…too cool to say “trick or treat” young enough to want free candy.  

I usually busted these kid’s chops.

“Yes, what do you want?”

“You know, like candy.”

“What do you say?”


“Come on, you know.”

“Trick or treat.”

“Thank you!”  Then I would hand over the candy.

By nine thirty it was lights out and candy in.  Late comers would not have their ring answered.  Even without the treat, I was never tricked.

These days, the kids come around right after school.  Parents accompany all but the teens.  They hang by the street cell phones ready to call 9-1-1 because they assume every home is occupied by a potential child predator.  I seldom know anyone that comes to the door.  The costumes are always store bought, and the kids seldom say “Trick or treat” even when prompted.  They just stick out their bag and collect the candy.  Sometimes they say “thank you” sometimes they grumble that you did not give them the good candy. 

The costume parade ends around eight, except for a few delinquents that ring the bell at ten even thought the lights are all out. 

If you leave your car out, the windows will be soaped and there is usually some toilet paper thrown.  Sometimes the little assholes toss eggs at the house.

Today if you leave a basket of candy out while you are away for an hour, it will be empty when you come home…you are lucky if they leave the basket.

I remember when Halloween was fun.  It was fun as a trick or treater, and it was fun answering the door.

These days Halloween is more like a holdup, no joy, no imagination, no neighborhood party, just give me stuff because you are just supposed to give out stuff…and it better be good!

Has Halloween changed, or is it just my neighborhood?


  1. I don't know about your neighbourhood, but I'm glad we don't do trick or treat night here. Buying that much good chocolate to give away would be too expensive and I'd feel awful handing out cheap stuff.

  2. Trick and Treating got to be a problem here. Old people were insulted and sometimes attacked and, in my case, the glass in my new porch was ruined. So much whatever-it-was was daubed on the windows and we could never get it off. Plus, an urn of pampas flowers was stolen from the porch. Thankfully we don't get trick or treaters now.

  3. My daughters neighborhood (mostly young couples with young kids) works pretty much as the old fashioned version. They are all really polite and do say "thank you." But there are no tweens or teens, so that makes a difference.

  4. The only change I've noticed is that half the kids are high schoolers, but I think that's just due to the make up of the neighborhood. There's a strict 6-8 pm time limit here, with cops patrolling the whole time.

  5. It has changed and not for the better.

  6. So true. Before I became an apartment dweller we never knew what Halloween would bring to our 'hood: Some years only 2 or 3 kids, some years there would be busloads of kids imported from other less affluent neighborhoods. Our last Halloween I preemptively went to the houses of the kids in our neighborhoods and took candy/small gifts to them, then just stayed in after dark with our porch light off (the sign that said don't bother).

  7. We are so rural that the village and the merchants host halloween, from six to seven thirty. Everyone who wants winds up at the elementary school for cider and donuts and everyone is home at eight thirty.

  8. Yep it has changed all over. Reading on the local Facebook page here where parents are asking where is the best place to take their kids trick or treating (best neighborhoods). We walked the neighborhoods, we were't "bussed" to them. I always thought Halloween was a bit weird in that we tell kids not to take candy from strangers yet one day a year we let them go to strangers' houses to get candy. Makes no sense.

    We live in a gated community this year. I'm not thinking we are going to get a lot if any trick or treaters, but then again everyone knows the code to come into this community, but then we do have that rule of no outside lights on at night, so we will see.


  9. They bus the kids in here. Hundreds and hundreds of them. And you ask why we go to the boat. You just answered that question. I'm not putting up with all this mess. It's not just your neighborhood, it's every neighborhood. We are now a give me bunch of ungrateful slobs.

    Have a terrific day and weekend. ☺

  10. I haven't given out candy for over ten years because we lived in the country. This will be our first year giving out candy, and I'm wondering how it will be. Being on the taking the kids out trick-or-treating section, our family does it like your first example. Except that I didn't know the parents, because we went to a friend's neighborhood to trick or treat. Some of the people handing out candy were rather dour, just shoving the candy at the kids, and I didn't know why, so maybe it's because they've had your more recent experiences for a while. It's sad that we are losing connections within communities.

  11. I think it might just be your neighborhood. Our neighborhood is mostly seniors or people without kids but we're finally starting to get trick-or-treaters and I'm happy about that.

  12. since i grew up in the country (and only was walked 1/2 mile down to the neighbors' place once when i was about 3 or 4) and now live in the country behind a locked gate and long driveway, i can't offer any opinion. but country living is great! :)

  13. Teens are not permitted to go door to door here, just those kids up to age 12. We get some home made and some store bought costumes, and it's mostly young kids with parents. They come up and smile and say "Trick or Treat!" and are prompted by the parents to say "thank you" if they forget. It's still fun here, and i'm grateful.

  14. I just laughed out loud at your description of parents with fingers on the 911 button! And, "you are lucky if they leave the basket!" LOL!
    When we first built our house and the neighborhood was full of kids, including our own, it was the typical wholesome scene you described. The kids are all grown up now and since our houses are far apart and we're up a hill, not too many kids venture in anymore. That's okay. We all go to my daughter's where the place is really hoppin' with kids and nice parents. But I still see vans bussed in too and that just seems weird to me!
    Happy Halloween!

  15. We live so far out in the sticks, even mean kids don't come around. We've always had big dogs which is probably a deterrent even though we rarely sic them on kids :)

  16. My husband tells me stories of the awful things that kids in the town he grew up in did on Halloween (eggs on cars, rocks onto porches, toilet papered trees, etc.). It's almost the opposite of your story.

    I've never experienced any problems. Sure, a few older kids come by and they are not even dressed up. We have a bowl of Tootsie Rolls for those trick-or-treaters (they get one little Tootsie Roll...hehehe). The little dressed up kids get the good stuff. If your outside lights are off, they don't bother you.

  17. Living in a 55+ RV park we aren't going to see any trick or treaters. Works for me. Before we sold the sticks and bricks we were only getting about 6 or 8 kids because the mall was handing out candy at all the stores and that was the place for them to get the good stuff.

  18. No tricks or treats here. Too far up a gravel road. It's just another night, nothing special.

    When we lived in town, my husband loved handing out candy. The most unique costume I saw was a kid with her head through a large cardboard box, a tablecloth draped on it, and plates and silverware glued on top. One little girl got a look at my husband's belly, turned to her big sister, and asked on the way down the porch steps, "Was that man pregnant?" When the older kids showed up, masks only, my husband asked them what they wanted. One boy said, "A VCR." Ahh...the '90s. Times have changed.