I live on the Tex-Mex border in a nice neighborhood just a few blocks off a major expressway, where many teachers and professional people make their homes. On Halloween my daughter and I leave the porchlights off and retreat to a back room until the herds of costumed kids, parents, and trailing cars have all gone home. But tonight I had to go to a 7 pm class at church, so at 6:40 I left the house and went out to my car. It was still light, but the street was already filled with kids, parents, and cars. I had to tell some of them who approached me, “We don’t participate”, and they politely moved on.
I was finally able to back the car out of my driveway, and I crept along at 3 mph, navigating the street as if it had mines planted in it, to keep from running over someone or bending someone’s fender. Once out of the neighborhood, there were still people walking down both sides of the street and cars pulled up on the grass to avoid blocking traffic while the kids made their annual haul.
At 8:30 I left the church and 20 minutes later I approached my neighborhood, thinking there might only be a few stragglers by that time. But if anything, it was worse! Cars were everywhere–in the driveways, parked on both sides of the street, and weaving around each other in both directions. And most of them were SUVs. It took me 10 minutes to make it down the street to my turn, and then into my driveway.
In the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Trick or Treat on Halloween is an industry. There couldn’t have been that many kids in the entire city! They must have caravanned up the Expressway and hit every neighborhood that looked like there might be candy and goodies forthcoming. The SUVs were needed not only to haul the kids, but all the sacks of treats they collected.
I have to admit that the kids were quiet and they didn’t commit any mischief, and they were surely having fun in their costumes. But Trick or Treat is one tradition that I would like to see forgotten. I can remember going around the block in my costume once or twice when I was little, and I took my own kids around to the houses of people we knew until the oldest was about 12. We did not come home with pounds of candy, but enough to make them queasy.
Let the kids dress up in the most creative costumes they can put together and go to school that way. Let people who work in stores and offices have a little fun, too. Let there be masquerade parties–I still love dressing in costume–and dances, concerts and shows and carnivals! But most people have forgotten how the Trick or Treat tradition got started and what it means. So why not let it slip into the past, too?