Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Only Ghosts Need Apply

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.


Stephanie said...

Good for you, girl! We, too, have a racially mixed neighborhood. Fortunately, the entire neighborhood celebrated ON Halloween. Since we have a baby, we still dressed her up and took her out... but instead of GETTING candy, we went door-to-door passing out candy. What a fabulous way to meet the people in your neighborhood! We will probably do Halloween that way forever.

Anonymous said...

I'm agog. How sad for your neighbors. That's the most screwed up thing I've ever heard. Maybe they want to have Christmas in July so they don't have to shop in crowded stores with the neighborhood hoi polloi during the busy season?

I'm glad you stuck to your guns and had a good time.

B.E.C.K. said...

I don't know your neighborhood and what kind of Halloween-day traffic it gets, but is it possible the reason your street does Halloween the day before is so that everyone can hand out only a quarter of a bazillion pieces of candy instead of two bazillion pieces? I just like to think the best of people, I guess, but obviously you know the situation much better than I.

In our neighborhood, the thing to do is take the kids to the mall for trick-or-treating. We've done it that way three times now and it's sorta fun to see the other kids' costumes, but I do miss the old-fashioned way of going door to door.

Orange said...

We had an organized neighborhood trick-or-treating thing on Sunday several blocks away. It's the only way—in an area of the city with a tiny number of single-family homes, kids can't just trick-or-treat at apartment and condo buildings. I'm guessing they picked Sunday so people wouldn't have to skip out of work early to do it.

The bigger highlight, for me, was going out Friday and Saturday night and seeing the people going to Halloween parties. Some folks, you couldn't say for sure if it was their usual weekend garb or special holiday fixin's. I like to think the couple with the pink leash attached to the guy's pink collar always goes bar-hopping like that. And the fully kilted guy—I want that to be his standard attire.

DoctorMama said...

Our street -- and neighborhood -- is single-family rowhouses as far as the eye can see -- great trick-or-treating. I love that people still do it the old-fashioned way here.
Yes, I suppose that not having to hand out a huge amount of candy could be a motive. Not that you couldn't just close up shop on Halloween once you're tired/the candy's gone. But we did get probably over 100 kids come by.

Fess up, orange -- it was you with the pink leash, wasn't it?

carolinagirl79 said...


our neighborhood is filled with Crabby Old White People who don't want to give candy to the black kids who live in an adjoining apartment complex. Hardly anybody turns on their lights.

It's ruined Halloween for us. We go to my brother in law's neighborhood.

Orange said...

You said: "Fess up, orange -- it was you with the pink leash, wasn't it?"

I wish!