We’re not at everyone is wearing white sheets level, but it’s ugly
Halloween and trick or treating – a simple childhood pleasure, right?
And yet, my neighborhood association has turned it into something racist and classist.
It’s not intentional (I don’t think). It’s not like they said, “How can we be awful people in how we do trick or treating?”
But that’s the result.
The way trick or treating works in this city is the city designates official trick or treat time, which I think is absolutely nuts – trick or treating should happen on the night of October 31. That’s not complicated. Trick or treating should happen on Halloween.
But the city decided it would be better to have trick or treating on a Sunday afternoon. So they designate the Sunday closest to Halloween as the official trick or treat time – and they make it during daylight.
Sure, it’s safer for the kids to be out during daylight, but other than that, there is no benefit to an afternoon, not usually October 31, event.
(Plus there can be a Packers game in the afternoon, which means nobody is going to answer the door.)
My neighborhood association feels the same way I do about afternoon trick or treating. So they did something about it.
Unfortunately, they did the wrong thing.
Rather than appeal to the city to right the wrong of afternoon trick or treating, they set up their own trick or treating on a specific night.
It’s a big deal – people have bonfires and parties and it looks like a lot of fun.
But to participate, you have to be a member of the neighborhood association.
Which means living here and paying a membership fee.
And you have to register your children to trick or treat, which requires (I think) more money.
The kids get little wands or glowsticks or something to show that they are paid, legitimate, One of Us trick or treaters.
People who register to give away candy (yes, you have to register to do that as well) get some sort of sticker to put in their window so kids know where to go.
- There is a Designated Neighborhood Night of Trick or Treating
- You have to be a paid member of the neighborhood association to participate
- Children get a special magic decoder ring so people know it’s OK to give them candy.
When I lived in Memphis, I was surprised to see children who did not live in my neighborhood show up at my door on Halloween. I was a bit cranky about it and said something to a friend, who set me straight.
“It’s maybe not safe for them to trick or treat where they live. Why not be kind?”
I was so ashamed when I thought about what she said. She was right – I was annoyed because people weren’t playing by the rules, rules I had created in my head. What was so bad about giving candy to little children?
It’s not that the kids who don’t live in our neighborhood can’t trick or treat here – they do. Only they come on the official designated trick or treat time – the Sunday afternoon. They do not come during the neighborhood event, which is the fun one.
And they are the only ones trick or treating. All the neighborhood kids have already done their trick or treating.
Some people still give out candy to those kids, but many do not.
It’s a sad sight: only a few forlorn kids, going door to door, with many people not answering, in the middle of the afternoon.
When I suggested (on Facebook) to a member of my city council that we change how the city does Halloween, explaining that the neighborhood parties seemed exclusionary and racist, she blocked me.