This being our first year in our house, I wasn't sure how much candy we'd need for Halloween. So last week when I saw our neighbor from two doors up the street, who's been here forever, and whose house was decked out in Halloween-themed decorations, I asked her. And something kind of strange happened.
"Ah ... er ... well, for years we did ours on the Sunday before Halloween," she said. "But I'm not sure what the plan is this year ..."
I was confused. Halloween before Halloween? She explained that there is a tradition on our block to have Halloween early, just for our block. And then many people turn off their lights on the 31st.
It took me a minute. What would be the benefit in this? Well, your kids would only go to houses of people you sort of know ... but wait, you could do that just as well on Halloween itself, right? So the only benefit is, you wouldn't have to answer your door for the people who aren't on your street. And what, you might ask, is the difference between the people on our street and the people, oh, a couple of blocks over?
Exactly. Our neighborhood is racially mixed. Our street, not very.
I'm kind of slow. I didn't actually figure it out until after our neighbor left, but once I did, I was livid. And embarrassed to be living on this block. It's not the kind of thing one asks when going to an open house. And there were Kerry stickers all over the place. But I can't say that I didn't know about the general paleness of our neighbors.
Fortunately our neighborhood has a listserve, which we consulted. We found that we weren't the only ones who felt that this was racist, and everyone -- at least, everyone who was willing to post about it -- agreed that they would indeed be doing Halloween on Halloween. Still, on Sunday, there were some kids on our block going door to door and some people answering the door with candy.
But on Halloween we sat on our stoop with beer (for us) and candy (for the trick or treaters) and you know what? We had a blast. There were a lot of dark houses on the block, but also a lot with their lights on, and lots of people sitting on their stoops, and it was a big party. (The neighbor who told me about the Sunday thing was out on her stoop too.) AngelBaby had a ball watching the parade of kids. I only had to chase after him once, when he fell in love with a dog and wanted to follow it home. We took pictures of the kids, and even printed a few pictures on the spot to give to them -- it was like some corny TV ad.
This is what some people were afraid to open their doors for. And this. And this.