Our neighborhood does not celebrate Halloween. It’s a practical thing. No trick or treaters, no Halloween.
You see, we live on a cul-de-sac. It’s uphill. And most of the neighbors turn their lights out. No pumpkins, just a few yards with decorations. A kid has to really work for it to get candy from our neighborhood, and most don’t bother. Oh, we see them down the street at the intersection. They pause, look up the hill, shake their heads and point their parents down towards the other neighborhoods. Each year, despite massive yard decorations, we’d get only a handful of trick or treaters. One year we had twelve. That was a big year.
Our daughter is grown up now and off on her own. So we leave a bowl of candy on the porch and head out to visit friends each year. We want to have fun!
Boy, did we have fun this year.
Our friends built a new home this past year in an area of San Jose called Willow Glen. Willow Glen is known for going over the top with their holidays, especially Halloween and Christmas. Neighbors prod each other to build ever more extravagant yard displays. Being their first year in the neighborhood nobody knew exacty what to expect.
Twelve hundred and ninety-four trick or treaters. That’s what you should expect. Oh my gosh.
I was like a kid in a candy store. Literally. I was surrounded by bowls of candy, so I hopped right into the front porch seat to help hand it all out. That’s me in the photo above, surrounded by witches, werewolves, zombies, and vampires. And the occasional Batman and Supergirl. What you can’t see in the photo is that I’m grinning from ear to ear.
Our friends put together a terrific yard display full of tombstones, animated ghouls, video projected spirits and even a talking crystal ball. The parents were very impressed, especially for a ‘first year’ member of the neighborhood. I overheard again and again that it was the best house on the block.
And how did we know there were exactly 1,294 trick or treaters? Well, one of the friends that owns the house is a researcher/analyst with a stats background. It’s what she does every day. So it leaks over into her personal life a bit. When we arrived that night we found she’d arranged all of the candy into 100-piece bowls. We were instructed to give exactly two pieces of candy to each kid, and we logged the time whenever we emptied a bowl. There was lots of data (maybe next year we’ll log ages and costume types – just kidding).
So almost thirteen hundred little ghouls and monsters gobbling up twenty-six hundred pieces of candy. Probably closer to twenty-four hundred pieces, we dropped down to one piece per trick or treater on the last two bowls. We were running out and there was still a huge line of kids!
At one point, the peak candy distribution point, we went through a full bowl in five minutes. That’s fifty kids in five minutes. Ten kids a minute. One every six seconds. When I got up to take a break my arm was actually sore from the constant back and forth of handing out candy. What a great Halloween!
The best costumes? There were some good ones. One family showed up as the cast from Mary Poppins. Chimney sweeps, Mary, Bert…the only thing they were missing were penguins. What a terrific group, I think they were my favorite.
Or was it the five year-old Hulk Hogan, complete with a little blond mustache? I saw a homemade Frankenstein costume on another little boy, and when he got his candy his little sister popped out from behind him dressed as the Bride of Frankenstein. She was maybe four years old. Cute and classic, I think they were the only Frankensteins all night. There were lots of bloody werewolves, zombies, and vampires though. Frank seems to have fallen out of favor. One other notable costume – a boy, maybe ten years old, came up dressed as Colonel Sanders. Did the whole ‘I’m the real Colonel Sanders’ thing. Brilliant. I shouted how terrific it was as he walked away, and his Dad yelled back ‘It was all his idea!’ A great costume, I wonder what he’ll do next year.
I’m enjoying just reminiscing about all of that. But the best part of the evening wasn’t handing out the candy. It was telling each and every kid how great their costume was and seeing them light up like a jack o’lantern. They went to the effort to get dressed up, so I wanted every one of them to know how great they looked. I took it as a challenge to find something unique to say each time, but it just felt so good to see them realize they weren’t getting a standard ‘Happy Halloween’. Especially the Disney princesses. I think they were shocked that an old man sitting on a porch could recognize Princess Jasmine, or Belle from Beauty and the Beast. I raised a little girl through the 90’s, my princess knowledge is solid.
So this was just an amazing Halloween. I’m really looking forward to next year. One of the houses down the street had a haunted house in their garage and a guy in a gorilla suit, and my friends aren’t about to be outdone. Now where can I find a gorilla suit?…