Halloween_in_Jackson_LA016

Hunter Teague takes a break from trick-or-treating to go by the United Methodist church for snacks on Halloween in Jackson.

What’s up with Halloween — or should I say, trick or treat?

In preparation for the most recent holiday, I went to the local big box store and bought a few — well, too many — bags of candy. I bought the good stuff, too, the kind of candy I would be proud to have myself or to give to my grandchildren.

I was ready Halloween night. And I have been ready every Halloween night ever since I lived on my own. I get the large bowl out stuffed with the finest in sugary choices. I flip the light on the front of the house so that the children can stop by for the full two hours allotted for visiting homes.

Until about four years ago, the door-knocking and doorbell would be nonstop. I would be exhausted by 8 p.m. I loved it. A couple of times, I ran out of candy and had to turn the lights off. It hurt to have to do that.

Sadly, all of that has changed.

Over the past three or four years, I have gotten only about 20 children at my house to receive the goodies. I know there are a lot of children in my neighborhood. Shoot, there is an elementary school less than a quarter of mile away from my house, so there ought to be a lot more folks at my door.

I miss all of those kids who came to my house in the past screaming “Trick or Treat!” to the top of their lungs, apparently hoping the higher octaves would mean more stuff thrown into their bags. I miss the little Iron Men, ballerinas, Teen-aged Mutant Ninja Turtles, Supermen, jumping in front of me as I reached for their bags.

I even miss the teenagers, some nearly 6 feet tall, who came by.

I did have a problem with the kids who wouldn’t say “trick or treat.” I would prod them, even the itty-bitty ones. Yes, I gave them candy if they didn’t say it, but I would give a little more to the ones who did.

Some say trick or treat is dying. Please say it ain’t so. How could it be? I loved it when I was a child. I went usually with a Lone Ranger mask on and would be stunned when people instantly recognized me.

There is a contingent that says it’s too dangerous to have children roaming the streets, knocking on the doors of strangers. I understand that to a degree. But there was a time when trick or treat provided neighbors the chance to get know each other by knocking on the doors of people they didn’t know. I guess some adults have spoiled it.

I guess we are not good people anymore.

I read an article that says some parents don’t allow their children to participate because they don’t want them to get high-calorie candy and or treats they might be allergic to. I understand that to an extent, but just let the children participate in the fun and ditch the stuff they shouldn’t eat later. (Easy for me to say, I guess.)

And now, a lot of people in middle- to upper-income subdivisions have become snobby and don’t participate because they don’t want to deal with people (admit it, sometimes from low-income areas) who come by car and truck to have their children participate in trick or treat. It’s called “neighborhood hopping.” I have no problem with that. I was that kid. I walked to areas where the better houses were.

I may be in a minority, but I don’t care where the children come from. My candy is for any kid who says "Trick or treat." I am happy that someone sees my neighborhood as a welcoming place where they can show their costumes, or no costume, and feel they can be treated with warmth and love.

I’ve read that parents are afraid that children will be hit by cars. Reports are that the highest number of child-pedestrian fatalities occur on Halloween. OK, so that is a problem.

Nonetheless, I love trick or treat. I want to see the children. I want to have more doorbells rung and to hear little knuckles on my door. I want to give children candy and joke with them and nudge the tiny people to say those magical words, and I want to smile at the ones who sheepishly say “Thank you,” even if it’s because they were pushed by the parents.

Please, folks. Let’s get this celebration back in the neighborhoods.

Email Edward Pratt, a former newspaperman who writes a weekly Advocate column, at epratt1972@yahoo.com