Halloween Past & Present- by Carrie Bayer
It’s the time of year where the ghosts & goblins come out. Pumpkins, black cats, styrofoam tomb stones & cottony spider webs adorn the neighborhood in anticipation of trick-or-treating. I love this time of year!
When I was a kid, my dad would put our dog on a leash & take us kids around the neighborhood to get our fill of candy. There were tons of other families out & about- it was a great night for neighbors to admire the kids’ costumes, visit & get to know each other better. It was a great sense of community, though I was too young to know what that meant. I don’t really remember what I dressed up as when I was young but I’m sure I looked fantastic – as every kid should.
When Halloween fell on a Sunday, dad would drive us to our church members’ homes the night before so we could still trick-or-treat but not on the Sabbath. A few times, we knocked on the wrong door & the residents would tell us we were too early, come back tomorrow- we would walk away very embarrassed while dad just laughed to himself.
Then in the late ’70s, kids were getting hurt by biting into candy, popcorn balls & candied apples loaded with razor blades & needles– that changed Halloween traditions forever. Gone are the nights of carefree door knocking. Kids can no longer eat their loot before mom & dad inspect every piece. To me, innocence was lost. At the time, I was OK with it because I was getting too old to trick-or-treat. But I felt bad for my little sister & her friends because it just wasn’t as fun anymore.
During the ’80s, trick-or-treating in my neighborhood was guarded. Parents came to the door with the kids instead of watching from the sidewalk. They would look at the treats before allowing their kids to accept them. They would look you over, take note of your address & what you gave – they were going to come back with the cops if they suspected you of wrongdoing. But then things began to change in an amazing way.
Communities, schools & churches began hosting Trunk-Or-Treat events where families gathered in parking lots with the trunk of their car filed with goodies. The kids would go car-to-car under the watchful eye of community & church leaders. People felt safe & the sense of community was restored- how wonderful! Then malls started having similar events, stores giving away treats, an indoor pumpkin patch, even hayrides thru the corridors! It’s so funny to see a horse pulling a cart in front of Nordstrom …
In Huntington Beach, I live in a gated community & never have kids knock on my door. It made me sad at first so I would go out on the sidewalk with my bowl of candy, giving handfuls to the few kids who walked by. But where were the rest of the kids? Surely there’s got to be more than 10 kids in my neighborhood! Then I learned about the downtown festivities.
HB does an amazing job getting its residents together on Main Street, especially on Halloween. Imagine a Halloween themed carnival within walking distance from home. Bobbing for apples, pumpkin carving & costume contests, rides, games, music, food, petting zoos- everything you could ever want for your kids on the most fun night of the year. Many stores hand out candy but some give toys, school supplies, hair accessories for girls, mini footballs for boys.
Things sure have changed since I was a kid & I’m so glad they have! Once again, families can go out on Halloween night & feel safe. They can have tons of fun, see friends & neighbors while still getting their fill on treats. Things have come full circle & then some!
What are some of your favorite Halloween memories? What are your most enjoyable traditions? And what was your best costume ever? I can’t wait to hear from you!