Tonight’s weather promises to be just ripe for Halloween ghosties. It will be cold, clear and full of fall fun.
Many homes in our old neighborhood really get into the Halloween spirit, turning Mesta Park into a trick-or-treater’s wonderland. Lights cover mansions while grave markers and cob webs cover front lawns. And over on 19th street, a few ghosts are already swinging on ropes, hanging high from creepy old tree limbs.
Candy distribution is especially brisk business over on “The Boulevard’, an area of Mesta Park that encompasses homes on both sides of the old streetcar curve, where Shartel Avenue transitions into 18th street. The Boulevard is the gateway to Mesta Park, and for tonight at least, it will be a congested gate full of cars and sidewalks full of excited and happy children. Next to Christmas, Halloween may be a child’s best holiday.
It was for mine. They liked all the dressing up and the novelty of walking through the neighborhood at night. And of course, there was the promise of all that free candy. The kids always brought home a lot of sweet loot, especially when young.
I’ll never forget our son Bryan’ first Halloween outing, when he turned into a 22 month old green dragon. Bry did a get job walking the sidewalks all on his own, and did amazingly well keeping up with two big sisters. At one point, my husband scooped what he knew was a tired Bryan into his arms, only to see Bryan’s little legs still full of energy, moving as if walking in air.
These days, Halloween is a much quieter affair. Bereft of children and living far away from The Boulevard’s hustle and bustle, Candyland is a much different game in our neck of the Mesta Park woods. We live by neighbors who believe in leaving porch lights off; and while our light will be on, our treats will not be that good to attract a big crowd. I made sure of that.
The trick is to offer the right size treat; nothing too big and nothing to small. I learned this from the school of hard knocks, back in the days of early family, when we lived in a new residential neighborhood with oversized lots. At its busiest, our Halloween traffic was slooooow — the houses being too far apart to attract serious gobs of trick-or-treaters. The few who canvassed our street for treats were often chauffeured by parents, riding house to house by car, then walking to the door to collect their treat. Older neighborhood children could be found on roller blades as they made quick tracks for treats.
One year I decided to be extra generous. I went to our local Target Store and purchased two or three boxes of king-size candy bars — enough candy to more than meet our Halloween demand.
But word must have got out on the street that the last house on Timbercreek Drive was giving out king-size candy bars. Who knew kids talked about their candy conquests? I didn’t. All I knew then was that we had kids crawling out of the woodwork and that a few costumes were begining to look very familiar. It wasn’t long before my supply of plenty was none.
At 8:00 p.m., we turned out the lights, glad to have survived without the need to raid our children’s private stashes. But as we settled in to watch a little television, our doorbell rang. And rang again. And then they knocked. Hard. The candy goblins were there…knew we were too…and they wanted their king-size bars. I don’t recall if my husband had to go to the door or not, but somehow, they left empty-handed. And as soon as they were gone, we turned off our inside lights and watched television in the dark. It was the spookiest Halloween I’ve ever experienced this side of the door.
So here’s my tip for a safe Halloween. Buy the appropriately named fun size. It will keep Halloween fun for everyone — all the givers, all the takers and even all those candymakers — and may it grant all a ghoulish good night.