Like a lot of children, I used to love Halloween. Dress up in costume for school and get parties instead of classes. Then after school we'd hurry to Grandma's house so we'd have time to make marshmallow ghosties and carmel apples before it got dark (Grandma had a bigger yard and a better neighborhood). THEN it was time to freshen up our costumes and head out into the neighborhood with bags or plastic pumpkins in hand. One of the best days in the year!
When I got older, there were the fun houses and parties. Remember it was a much simpler time. Scary meant a dark room where, for some reason, we thought it was normal to put our hands in a variety of bowls and scare ourselves into thinking the bowl of grapes was really a bowl of eyeballs and of course the bowl of spaghetti was a bowl of guts. The blood, of course, was ketchup. Like at any other time we'd walk around a dark room touching things we couldn't see. Ok maybe sometimes, but we won't go there.
After being sufficiently scared we might watch a movie (remember The Ghost and Mr. Chicken?) and play some games, eating all the while. Only the candy corn lived on. Those were the days.
Yesterday, I read an article about a town in Pennsylvania that reinstituted Halloween trick or treating after dark for the first time in sixteen years. An enterprising 5th grader petitioned the city council to lift a "no trick or treating after dark" ban and managed to get a unanimous vote. That in itself seems miraculous.Why the ban? Because sixteen years ago an 11 year old girl was abducted and found dead three days later, sending parents and townsfolk into a panic. Rightfully so. Her killers have since been found and punished but the fear lives on.
It would be nice if that were a highly unusual crime, but it isn't. And the scary things that face trick or treaters today are nothing like those I faced when I was a child. My daughter and her boyfriend are taking his 5 and 7 year old children to a neighborhood church party, complete with costumes, bounce houses, games, prizes and, of course, candy. It just seems safer than wandering unknown neighborhoods these days.
Hope you have a safe and happy Halloween that's just the right kind of scary!