Halloween Haunts

I thought for a long time about whether to post this on “06880.” It involves parents who drive their little ghosts, pirates and princesses to neighborhoods where the houses are close together. It’s a classic Westport move: Maximize your trick-or-treating investment by minimizing time spent trekking from door to door.

(I will not even mention that, from the age of about 7 on, my friends and I did all our candy-collecting — and pumpkin-smashing — sans parental supervision. I understand we live in a different century today. Hold your fire.)

Over the past couple of decades, several areas have become designated go-to spots on Halloween. Their fame has spread beyond our borders. Out-of-towners come too, attracted by the Westport cachet as much as the easy pickings.

Long ago, children dressed up in costumes on Halloween, and went door to door asking for candy -- in their own neighborhoods. Those were the days!

Long ago, children dressed up in costumes on Halloween, and went door to door asking for candy — in their own neighborhoods. Those were the days!

So when an alert “06880” reader contacted me, I was conflicted. Her message is a good one, but I don’t want to let the cat out of the (candy) bag for anyone who doesn’t already know about these prime local spots.

My solution is to print the reader’s suggestion, but delete any mention of where she goes. I’ll leave the ethics of trick-or-treating outside your neighborhood to you. Yet if you decide that descending on someone else’s road is the right message to send your kid, here’s what one reader wants you to do:

I have been going to [redacted] to trick or treat for many many years. The decorations are amazing, and the people who live there are so wonderfully friendly and giving. They spend a lot of money making Halloween a fantastic night and event for so many of us who head there.

I feel that we should thank this neighborhood for their many years of taking in hundreds of families on that night. Each family planning to go there should buy 2 or 3 bags of candy and hand it to different homeowners. The families would be so thankful, and feel appreciated.

Sounds like a reasonable suggestion. But it also sounds just one step removed from simply buying candy and handing it over to your kid without all the intermediate steps of costume-buying, driving and tromping down the road.

15 responses to “Halloween Haunts

  1. Loretta Hallock

    The Town has a great parade for the younger children. I miss working at Town Hall and seeing all the little ones trick or treating . It’s a great time for the kids and parents.

    • Thanks for the plug, Loretta!
      Westport Parks & Recs, Westport Downtown Merchants Association, & Westport P.A.L. will hold the Main Street Halloween Parade for kids 7 and under this Wednesday 10/29, beginning at 3:30 at the corner of Main St. and Post Road, ending with a party on Veterans’ Green.
      On a personal note, I have lived in Westport on a long, dark road with few houses, and Halloween is a pretty sad night waiting for the kids who never come. I have also lived in one of the neighborhoods (not) mentioned in the post. What a blast! We had hundreds of happy, spooky, funny kids and families visit our home for treats. I understand that it could be a burden, but that one night sure is fun.

  2. Katherine Golomb

    What ever happened the the orange trick or treat boxes for UNICEF with Kids collecting nickels to help children in third world countries? Are kids today aware of the world around them or are they just thinking of filling their bags with candy? Do they know about sharing and giving back?Many questions. Do readers have answers? .

  3. I think Unicef collection has gone by the wayside. But today’s kids are VERY aware of the world around. Many, many Westport elementary, middle and high school students are not only doing great service projects locally and in other places; they are also organizing them themselves. I very much admire their activism and interest. We collected Unicef money because we were expected to. Kids these days go well beyond what we did.

  4. Instead of donating candy after the (unnamed) neighborhood families have already purchased theirs, why not send in a contribution to UNICEF? Then hand a note to the Parents at each house a note saying that you’ve donated $xx to UNICEF in honor of their neighborhood’s generosity. I think that would be greatly appreciated.

  5. As the original emailer to Dan Woog about thanking the neighborhoods for their incredible Halloween evening. I have been very happy to read your responses. I believe that giving to UNICEF is an incredible thing and it is too bad that the orange batches have mostly disappeared. My son attended the Montessori school and the school hands out the boxes to the students for Halloween.

    That said I had just gotten off the phone with UNICEF and there are a few ways one can donate. You can go online and donate privately and individually. As Halloween is only four days away you can also go online and print a label and attach it to any can or box and send it out for the evening with your child.

    The most influence any of us will have on any future Halloween for UNICEF is to start a group of parents requesting their child’s school to order the boxes for next year and this way getting the schools involved again and the parents Association involvement so many many children once again walk around with those fantastic orange boxes on Halloween evening

  6. Dan Lasley (Laz)

    We used to live in one of these neighborhoods, and was wonderful to see so many kids and their creative costumes. We never felt put upon for having to buy a few extra bags of goodies. No special thanks required for us, but please give to your favorite charity.

    We now live in an area where the houses are further apart, and we don’t get nearly as many kids, though the costumes continue to be sophisticated and creative. It took us a few years to adjust the amount of candy we bought.

  7. Full info about Trick-orTreat for UNICEF:


  8. I live in a trick or treat destination neighborhood of sorts, and I can tell you that we, and I’m sure my neighbors, don’t mind the extra visitors at all. Many of the homes in these trick or treat “destination” neighborhoods turn up their Halloween decorations a notch or two in anticipation of the fun. (Of course, I am willing to bet that there is at least one neighbor who isn’t quite so thrilled.)

    Dan and I grew up on two of the longest dead end roads in Town (High Point and Woody Lane respectively), so I think we had the good fortune of great “hit ratio” trick or treating on less busy roads (my friends and I hit High Point, then Woody Lane using the path from the Grossman’s house to mine, and then Whippoorwill Lane for good measure, so I guess we were already trick or treating “outside of our neighborhood”). But there are other parts of Town where trick or treating from one’s house involves a dark 1/2 mile walk on a busy street with fewer houses, yielding a much different experience. So I can hardly blame parents in other parts of town for dropping their kids off in a local neighborhood that has lots of houses on kid-friendlier streets, who are expecting lots of trick or treaters.

    Or maybe I am just getting more tolerant . . .

  9. Has anyone seen news about the Teal Pumpkin Project? I have a kiddo with a dairy allergy and so many kids these days have different and severe allergies. It’s so sad go trick or treating and then have to take away all the candy. The Teal Pumpkin Project promotes fun, non-food (thus allergy safe!) treats for kids (erasers, stickers, spider rings, etc.) so kids with allergies don’t feel so left out. Here’s a link in case anyone is interested: http://www.foodallergy.org/teal-pumpkin-project#.VE5nOvnF-hQ

  10. Marcy Anson Fralick

    When we lived in the mountains of Colorado, everyone’s house was on an acre+ over miles of dirt roads, deep in the woods with no street lights, so it was impossible to go door to door, For a few years, one of the school bus drivers would have a drop-up spot, gather the kids and pile them into the school bus, and take them to previously designated homes they could go trick-or-treat at. Later, our HOA’s Social Committee took over our community clubhouse and turned it into Halloween Town. The kids would come by hayride (several pick-up trucks with hay driven by resident dads) in costume, older teens in costume would man the “booths” of Bobbing for Apples, egg races, Guess the Body Part (eyball grapes is liquid J-ello, pin the hat on the witch, for example, and other games with prizes designed for the different age groups. The party would go from 6:;30 – 9:00 p.m. and was for all neighborhood kids ages 3-12. At the end, the kids went home with candy bags, prizes and fun memories. The volunteer “moms” would try to make a picture album of each child and email it to his or her parents. In Colorado Springs and other “sprawl” type areas, like where I now live in AZ, there are tons of well-lit neighborhoods with lots of cul-de-sacs and streets with houses very close together, where traditional trick-or-treeting is still the norm. Another thing that happens is that strip malls with places like grocery stores or Target, as well as Payless Shoes, Best Buy, frozen yogurt places, etc., will have greeters give out candy bags to kids who come by. It’s organized by the merchants, so the candy bags have not just candy, but lots of coupons, and toys as well. Those seem to be the preferred places to go after the kids have already hit up their neighborhoods.

  11. Joyce Bottone

    I think it’s wonderful that families take the time to decorate their homes over the Halloween, but feel that sometimes “less is more”. I don’t think kids are going to look back on Halloween remembering ALL the candy they got. I grew up on Bayberry, and back then we went out trick or treating for hours, and trudged done those nice long driveways to get a bar of chocolate. Of couse Highland Road, was the best, because the houses were closer. But neighbors knew neighbors, back then, and we stayed connected.

    As I look at my youngest child whose about to venture out on what might be her last year (class of ’15) I am humbled by the comments I still hear from both my children. We always stayed in our neighborhood, and the kids would connect with our neighbors, especially the old timers who looked forward to seeing the happy little faces (or scary) of the children. My kids still remember going to one house, where each year, warm chocolate chip cookies and hot chocolate were served. And they remember dumping their bags of candy and swapping favorite with their friends.

    It seems to me that people are so embarked on ensuring that their kids get so much candy, that they miss out on something important. UNICEF was my generations way of connecting with the world issues. But why not, also, remember your neighbors/community. My folks still live up on Bayberry, and each year they would buy some candy, and nobody would come.

    Might I suggest that you look around your neighborhood, and notice those older folks, who may be anxiously waiting for some goblin guests, or encourage your children to make a Halloween card, and stick it into their mailbox. It would be a nice thing to do.

  12. Westport’s long, dark roads (at least in the 60’s and 70’s) screamed Halloween! Running back home again, with a bag of treats (and goosebumps) was the thrill.
    Does Mischief Night still exist?

    • Westport’s dark roads with Audis, Beemers and texting Mercedes drivers (ok Lexus and Acuras too, maybe Hondas, but definitely not Subarus!) can scare the Bejeezus out of you on a sunny afternoon, not to mention a dark and scary night. #affluenza