Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween: The Kids Are All Right

Vintage plastic Wilma Flintsone maskFree Range Kids' Lenore Skenazy has a good (but not-too-well-edited) article about the destruction of Halloween on the Huffington Post today. In it, she points out that thorough research shows there were never any documented cases of strangers poisoning candy or any other Halloween treats. Like most of Skenazy's work, it's worth a read.

My own experience of Halloween as a child involved roaming my rural neighborhood with my sisters and some of the neighbor kids. Sometimes we wore low-effort, homemade costumes (the hobo with the burnt-cork-blackened face, the ghost made out of a sheet) or those light-weight, flammable acetate, pajama-like get-ups with the molded, cheap plastic masks. (The masks always had a piece of white elastic string attached with little pieces of metal, and it seems like the string always broke or the plastic cracked around the metal, so you would end up holding your mask on.)

Vintage plastic Batgirl maskWe were never driven anywhere for trick or treating. Although, hmm... maybe once when the weather was really bad. It was almost more fun to get back home and watch the other trick-or-treaters come to our door. Each group of kids would have to come inside the living room so their costumes could be seen in the light.

Honestly, I don't remember the candy I got, though there definitely was some. There were a few apples, too, and homemade popcorn balls, which were okay. What I remember best are Mrs. Cromer's caramel apples. They were considered the greatest treat by everyone.

Reading through the comments responding to Skenazy's HuffPo article, I was most astounded by this one from a reader called HSC55:

Our town has been doing something for Halloween now for three years that I find sickening. Instead of having the kids run door to door to collect candy, we are supposed to fill our car trunks with candy and drive to the local high school. There, everyone parks in the parking lot, opens their trunk and the lazy, fat little kids get to gorge themselves without walking a block. Just think how much candy and calories they can pack in in 5 minutes when it used to take them that long to walk between houses. It's obscene.
Wow. And I thought the practice of taking kids to malls to trick-or-treat was bad.

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