Is Door to Door Trick or Treating a Thing of the Past?
Tomorrow is Halloween, and although my adorable four-year-old daughter is at the perfect age to enjoy trick or treating, we have no firm plans to go. In fact, I know of very few parents who are planning to take their children trick or treating this year. Is door to door trick or treating a thing of the past? If so, why? For me, the reason is simple. First, we live in a cold place. Second, there are so many other options. Third, the safety factor. Trick or treating the way I remember it does not seem to be the way to go anymore.
When I was little, the joke between my mother and her friends was that they all had to buy our Halloween costumes a few sizes bigger so that they would fit over our snow suits to go trick or treating. When I dressed up as a cute little princess or a fluffy little animal for Halloween, I went as the marshmallow version. This is just one of many reasons why trick or treating in a cold place like Alaska is not fun for anyone. Sometimes the temperatures on Halloween drop below zero and no one wants to take their precious little babies out walking from door to door in those temperatures. Furthermore, what parent wants to hang out in the cold for an hour? I surely don’t! Also, it doesn’t just get dark in Anchorage around this time of year: it gets inky black outside, the kind of dark that you cannot see more than a foot in front of you. Between the cold and the darkness, trick or treating in Anchorage is no fun.
When I say there are so many other options for trick or treating, I mean that there are so many warmer, safer, well-lit options for children to go trick or treating. In September, we have Trick or Treat in the Heat. It is not 60 degrees and sunny or anything, but it is better weather than we experience on October 31st. That is just the first of many opportunities for kids to experience the Halloween fun without going door to door. One of the local malls does a trick or treating event, many elementary schools host Halloween carnivals with trick or treating, and the community put on the first annual Trick or Treat Street over the weekend where local downtown businesses hosted kids and their families for trick or treating in the middle of the day. These options are so much more appealing to families with little kids that I think in the years to come it is going to be hard for traditional trick or treating to compete.
Last, and most important, is the safety factor surrounding door to door trick or treating. In recent years, sending your children to go door to door in your neighborhood on Halloween may be as dangerous as letting them play with fireworks unattended. Just this morning I saw an article online that quarter-sized packets of methamphetamines were found in Halloween candy. This report was accompanied with what is now a common reminder to check your children’s’ Halloween candy thoroughly before you give it to them. We have all heard reports of needles or other harmful items being inserted into candy bars. Who does that sort of thing to children? Plus, I don’t think any of us will forget the murder that took place on Halloween after someone poisoned some candy and a child died. Even if your child does not get tainted candy, they might be greeted at the door by someone who is taking advantage of the opportunity to expose themselves to innocent children because they think it is funny or it satisfies their sick pleasures. These are the kind of things that took Halloween from something fun and harmless to something dark that we cannot return from; the idea of sending my child door to door in a world like this makes me sick.
My daughter wants to be Wonder Woman for Halloween this year. We bought her a costume and we will spend the time tomorrow morning to get her dressed up before we send her off to preschool. Tomorrow night we will probably take her trick or treating, but it will be different than it was when I was a kid. We will drive to all her grandparent’s houses and collect handfuls of candy from them, and we may do the same at a few friend’s houses, too. We will not be going door to door, however, because I don’t feel safe doing that with my daughter. Also, between the weather, the dark, and the fact that you cannot even see her cute outfit under her winter clothes, it just isn’t any fun. Regardless of how other people feel, for myself and my family, I think door to door trick or treating has become a thing of the past.