Not As Many Hallows About, This Last Eve

Photo by Courtney Mroch

Looks like I’ve survived another Halloween. This was a quiet one compared to previous years. Maybe because it rained all day (though it was clear at night), or maybe because it fell on a Monday. Whatever the cause, though I enjoyed seeing the little kids in their costumes–especially the polite ones!–I kind of appreciated the slowness this year.

This used to be my wife’s favorite holiday, and some of her enthusiasm rubbed off onto me over the years. Lately, though, our workload keeps us from getting creative with creepy decorations and such, I’m not a big fan of wearing costumes myself, and some of the charmers coming to our door have been less than charming. Some of the luster has worn off of this holiday for me, and for my wife as well, I’m afraid.

There’s a house a couple miles up the road that really goes all out and does an amazing job. They turn their house into a pirate ship manned by skeletons, and you really have to look hard to confirm that there’s a house under all that wood and smoke. I kind of suspect some of their neighbors are less than crazy about the display–especially given the time it takes to set it up and strike it down again–but I think it’s pretty awesome. That’s Halloween done right–get really into it, go hog wild, and outdo yourself every year. I wish I had that kind of Halloween spirit, but I just don’t.

My town usually has a lot of trick-or-treaters, but whether that’s a good or bad thing is a bit more nuanced than it might appear on the surface. It’s not just a sign of how enthusiastic people around here are, but of the fact that people from other parts of the county drive their kids miles away from home to have them trick-or-treat at our houses.

I guess the perception is that we give better candy, or maybe some people just want an excuse to walk up to some of the bigger houses in town (not mine!) and gawk. It’s fair to say that our median income is above that of the surrounding neighborhoods, and it’s also fair to say that a greater percentage of our houses are participating. But, you know, if all these people were home manning their own doors instead of driving to our neighborhood, then a greater percentage of the houses in their neighborhood would be participating as well.

I’m not quite sure how I feel about this. It’s kind of a compliment, I suppose–except when I walk behind someone from out of town talking about how stupid people around here are to waste money on those little electric cars.

There’s also the idea that, as long as we’re sticking to our own neighborhoods, then it’s kind of like we all chip in to communally buy candy for all our kids. Some candy goes out the door, some candy comes in the door, and we’re all a part of it. But if you bring your kids over here, and your house is a half-dozen miles away, then what exactly are you contributing?

On the other hand, if we can provide for some little kid an experience she could not have in her own neighborhood, then part of me is happy to be able to do that. Heck, it’s only some candy, for cripes’ sake. One of the things I’ve always liked about this town is that our kids do get to have some of the experiences that were common when I was a kid, that seem less common now. The experiences of an active community where people still do things like get to know their neighbors and take part in the holidays. I want my kids to grow up with those memories, and I wouldn’t deny them to some other kids.

Some of the parents of those kids, though, who come around without a please or a thank you, and expecting candy for themselves even though they aren’t in costume, or expecting candy for their infant who is too young to eat candy, are another story altogether.

And I really can’t wrap my head around who thought it was a good idea last year to start running a bus service to shuttle out-of-town trick-or-treaters to all the different parts of town. Seriously?! I wonder who’s paying for that service, and hope it isn’t me.

I can imagine an argument where that makes sense–people are going to come anyway, this disperses some of the congestion away from the center of town, and this reduces the number of cars on the street. I get all that, but if we’re going to go all out and become a holiday attraction for outsiders, then shouldn’t we be seeing some benefit for it? The Chamber of Commerce puts on all sorts of cool events downtown like the falling leaves and the snowfall and fireworks, but those businesses see increased revenue from all the outside traffic. What benefit do I get?

It seem wrong, somehow, to be an unwitting tourist attraction.

Maybe I’m turning into the Halloween equivalent of The Grinch.

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2 Responses to Not As Many Hallows About, This Last Eve

  1. Jonathon says:

    This year Ruth took the boys to our old neighborhood (less than two miles away) both because we know that neighborhood better (we lived there for three years and only moved out a few months ago) and because our new neighborhood doesn’t have a lot of kids or houses participating. (We got less than ten trick-or-treaters here, I think.) But driving or busing to a neighborhood several miles away that you have no connection too? That’s super-lame. Particularly the parent trick-or-treaters.

  2. Joe Iriarte says:

    Yeah, I don’t see a problem when you have a connection to the neighborhood. When I was a kid, my parents took me to my grandmother’s apartment complex to trick-or-treat, but I practically lived there on the weekends anyway.

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