TinyWitch-GraphicsFairy1My youngest, who is 11, is still very much into Halloween. Trick or treating is serious business for her, and as we went door to door in our neighborhood last night, I realized something…Halloween is changing, and not for the better.

First of all, half the houses didn’t participate. This is especially true of my immediate neighborhood – out of the 8 or 9 houses that make up “my block” only two were brightly lit or decorated inviting kids to come on up and ring the bell, mine, and the new family across the street. Rule of thumb usually is, if the porch light is off, don’t bother, so my house got very little traffic.

While we were walking around the block, the kids would get a good 3 or 4 houses in a row with folks handing out candy, but then we’d have to walk past at least 4 or 5 homes that were completely dark. It was super creepy too, because it was pitch black last night.

There were also very few trick or treaters at first. We walked around for a good 25 minutes before we came across another family, and they weren’t even on foot, they were driving around in their car canvasing areas with a bunch of good houses in a group.

That’s another Halloween oddity here. Because so many folks live in rural areas, they drive into the developments to do their trick or treating. So along with the throngs of kids on foot, there are almost as many in cars – it makes for a busy and potentially dangerous night.

Every now and then, you hit a little area where a group of houses really embrace the spirit of Halloween. Their homes are well lit and decorated, and there are large groups of families and kids milling about, excited to have found a good pocket of trick or treating territory. It’s almost like a block party atmosphere – and I am super jealous of those folks. I’d love for my neighborhood to be more like that.

And then there are the die-hard Halloween fanatics – the ones who go way overboard. We visited two of these homes last night.

One, has his yard and home decked out with what has to be $4,000 worth of lights, tombstones, and animatronic ghouls. You can park in front of their house and listen to music that accompanies the lights. But they gave away dollar store lollipops for treats – I guess they spent all their money on Jason and Freddy Kruger statues. Oh, and they are twice as bad at Christmas…

The other house was amazing. It had twice the stuff as the first house, but they also made theirs interactive. You could walk through a lighted path lined with tombstones, fog machines, spiders and killer clown robots. They had their porch turned into a mad scientists lab. They had no less than 25 carved pumpkins. A woman was handing out good candy by the hand fulls. And they had a serious traffic jam in front of their house. It was great.

As I turned out my Halloween lights for the last time, and watched my girls digging through the bowl of candy in search of their favorite treat, I thought of all the differences there are between the Halloween I grew up with and the ones my kids have experienced. It’s too fast here. You can’t go out until dark, which isn’t until at least 6:30, and it’s all over by 8:30…just two small hours where you are trying to cram in as much fun as possible. Our night was over in the blink of an eye.

And what’s the deal with trunk or treating? I’m not sure how I feel about those things. If they are meant to be a fun event in addition to traditional trick or treating on October 31st, then I think they are a splendid idea. But if they are meant to replace going out on Halloween night, I think it’s really sad. Everything is too safe…to PC these days.

I wonder, once my youngest grows too old for Halloween, what kind of participant I’ll be. Oh, I know my light will always be on for the neighborhood kids – I could never become that much of a crank. On the one hand, I look forward to sitting at home with a glass of wine waiting for the doorbell to ring. But I wonder if I will miss being out there, walking through the inky black streets of my neighborhood, hearing the sounds of laughter around the next corner.

I guess I’ll find out in another couple of years – that is, if Halloween hasn’t gone to hell in a hand basket by then.