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November 1, 2013

NASH: Halloween roulette

— I remember a winter evening several seasons ago. It was one of those nights that parents usually dread while their children quietly hope for. The weather reporters on all the local news stations had been tracking and predicting a winter storm that would cripple our city. For days the meteorologists warned that we would be in for the “Storm of the Century.” The coming snowstorm was to be so severe that many local school corporations took the unusual step of calling off school before the first snow flake ever fell.

Children awoke early the next morning, probably earlier than they would have if there had been school that day. They had planned to make the most of the fresh blanket of snow that covered the ground.  Of course as you may have guessed  the kids were disappointed that day. There would be no snowmen, no igloos in the snow drifts ... there wasn’t even enough of a dusting on the ground to make simple snow angels. The predictions of the weatherman had not panned out and school had been called off for no reason.

This week, as Halloween approached and severe weather was forecasted, local municipalities scrambled to make plans for an alternative to trick of treating on Halloween night. If you have ‘friends’ on Facebook with kids that are of trick-or-treat age, you quickly became aware of how serious people were about the situation. As early as last weekend parents were wondering what could be done about the impending storms that were sure to hit as soon as little ghost and ghouls went door to door.

 Some of the local communities switched the night for trick-or-treating to the night before, while some of them made it for the night after. Some decided to keep it the same warning parents to use their own judgment when taking their kids out. It would be a real tragedy if something was to happen to someone just so a child would not to be disappointed because they couldn’t dress up, go door to door and get some candy.  

I have noticed that fewer and fewer people have been handing out candy in the last few years. Moving Halloween hours around make it difficult not only for those with youngsters, but also those neighbors who are happy to participate. I look forward to passing out candy to the neighborhood kids each year and usually dress up myself. I had made arrangements to be home during originally scheduled Halloween hours, but am not sure I could be there for any of the alternatives.

Some people have suggested that we should move Halloween nearly every year. Their idea is to make it fall on a Friday or Saturday night every year so that school children can participate without getting out of their daily routine. It is a similar idea as moving federal holidays to the closest Monday so that people that observe the holiday at their workplace can have a three day weekend.

Moving Halloween possibly to the weekend before on a regular basis would be an interesting proposition. It would also be confusing to many people and possibly lead to fewer people participating. It would also conflict with other plans that take place in the month of October. Many churches and civic groups hold special nights with costume parties or trunk-or-treat events.  

I worked overnights for many years in a retail establishment and it was obvious that bars and nightclubs used the weekend before as their time to party. It is also when many people hold their private Halloween parties. Our clientele were obvious heading to some kind of gathering looking for last minute makeup or pantyhose, and that was usually the men.  

I don’t remember there ever being any really bad weather trick-or-treating as a youngster. I think there might have been a few with some light rain but never enough to keep us from getting out and getting what we thought we deserved.  

This was one of the last years that my older children will be able to trick-or-treat. They are almost to the age where they are too big to dress up even though they are still interested in getting that candy.   

This column was written hours before any of the officially scheduled Halloween festivities were to begin. Hopefully everyone used good judgment and everyone made it through without any major incidents.  

Next year I will have the infant twins to experience Halloween with, which I hope will continue for years to come. If it’s too cold or raining or severe weather is threatening my wife and I will have to use our best judgment in keeping our children safe. We shouldn’t wait for or count on a government body or municipality to do that for us.

— Matthew Nash can be reached at dmatthewnash@gmail.com

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