Traditionally, trick or treating involves unattended children dragging a treat bag along leaf-covered sidewalks and knocking on the doors of their neighbors. The first change to this iconic, Its-the-great-pumpkin-Charlie-Brown-style institution came when parents began accompanying their children, hanging back in the shadows, as children rang the doorbell and collected some type of individually wrapped candy. Now, there is another, rapidly growing yet mildly disturbing trend: destination trick or treating.
Families pile into their cars, leaving their own houses darkened, possibly with a forlorn basket of candy on the doorstep, and head to a “good” Halloween neighborhood, with a reputation for elaborate decorations, dressed up hosts, and supersize candy handouts. A trick-or-treat destination with buzz, hype, and cachet, where their offspring will be sure to score a lot of loot, probably more than they could possibly eat, and win bragging rights on the playground.
|Halloween in Beacon Hill, MA. Image from flicker.com|
Why? Why do families feel the need to seek bigger and better? Why isn’t one’s own neighborhood enough? Is candy so ubiquitous now, especially around Halloween, that visiting a few houses and scoring a few “party size” candy bars and lollipops just isn’t enough or perhaps parents can’t trust that it might be. Perhaps suburban sprawl has pushed neighbors so far apart to make walking house to house onerous, and forcing families to seek out older, denser communities. Or, possibly, people invest so little in their own neighborhoods, they seek to become part of a thriving vibrant local community, even if only for one night.
Yes, there are families who live in locales isolated or rural enough to require a Halloween car trip. But I like to imagine they seek a good-enough Halloween neighborhood - no elaborate displays, no full-sized candy bar hand outs, just a place they can walk house to house. So perhaps I am just lucky, lucky enough to live in a such good-enough Halloween neighborhood. No hype and certainly no crowds arriving by car, but the neighbors are usually home, with a bowl of candy at the ready. Neighborhood children rattle bags full of candy as they walk along, glow sticks swinging, and usually (but not always) remember to say, “Thank you Mrs. Brigham. Happy Halloween!”