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Robert Barron column: Halloween isn’t what it used to be

In my day, you’d rarely see adults accompany their children trick-or-treating
Robert’s column

Halloween is a lot different now than when I was a kid.

I’m from the baby-boomer generation and I remember there were a lot more youngsters around in those days than there are today.

There were hundreds of teens and pre-teens in the densely packed neighbourhood where I spent part of my youth, and for many of us, Halloween held the same status as Christmas.

We used to come up with our own costumes weeks, and sometimes months, leading up to Halloween night before just buying cheap plastic ones from the nearest department store became the norm.

Old bed sheets were (of course) turned into ghost costumes, while some tattered clothes and a bandanna made you into a pirate.

You get the picture; just about anything could be turned into a Halloween costume if you had some imagination, and we had that in spades.

At dusk on Halloween, and sometimes before, droves of kids would swarm onto the streets in a race to get the best goodies first from the tightly packed-in homes in the neighbourhood.

The townhouses were all joined together so the distance from one front door to the next was just a few feet, and we used that to our advantage.

My friends and I would trick-or-treat in groups and that allowed three or more doors to be knocked on at the same time and we’d collect our treats quickly before we’d move on to the next three or four homes and repeat the process.

One of the few advantages of not being rich is the there’s usually a lot less distance to travel between homes for trick-or-treaters.

It would take us just a couple of hours to fill our pillow cases (we always used pillow cases for some reason I can’t recall) and then we’d rush home, unload the goods, and head to another part of the neighbourhood with now empty pillow cases and start again.

There were so many kids on the streets that most adults wouldn’t dare even think of driving their cars for fear of hitting any of the excited and unpredictable costumed children running around everywhere.

That’s why we had to move fast as each home’s inventory of candy dwindled quickly with the huge number of sugar-addicted Halloween fiends cruising through the neighbourhood.

After a few more hours, the lights began going out in the homes indicating that the occupants were out of stock so don’t bother to bang on the door, but my group would continue until the very last lights went out and we were left in the dark,

That’s when we would reap the rewards of our hard work and head home to begin devouring the huge hoard of unhealthy foods (that’s what made us love them of course) that we had accumulated during the course of the evening.

Our parents were never very happy with us filling our faces with junk food for days after, but they knew better than to try and intervene.

It is an annual tradition for kids after all.

But it’s a different world today.

First off, there’s just not as many kids around anymore as families seem to have downsized since the boomer generation, so the competition to see who in the neighbourhood could get the most goodies from limited stocks on Halloween just doesn’t seem to be there anymore.

As well, in my day, you’d rarely see adults accompany their children trick-or-treating, but as times change, most parents don’t feel safe allowing that anymore.

And trick-or-treating in neighbourhoods seems to have fallen out of fashion as well, as many kids now go to organized events in malls and parties instead to collect their candy.

It is what it is, I guess, just as long as the kids are still having fun.

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