Daily Archives: October 31, 2008

Halloween on wheels

It’s no wonder Americans are so fat. Southern states, of course, lead in the percentage of obesity. I don’t know the actual numbers, but you can quote me on that.

I’m amazed at the trend in trick-or-treating these days. Here’s the scenario:

Mom or Dad drive to a neighborhood (or pull out of their driveway and stay in their own neighborhood) and pull to a house appropriately lit up to indicate the inhabitants are participating in the festivities we call Halloween. The kids pile out of the car, run up to the door, say the expected ‘trick-or-treat,’ get candy…and then pile back into the car.

Huh?

When I was a kid, trick-or-treaters ruled the streets; there was rarely a car to be seen except those parked in the driveways. It would not surprise me if you told me that you counted more cars than kids on the streets this Halloween. Back then, we would circle ’round the neighborhood on foot, sweating under the makeup or costume (it was more often hot than not on Halloween in Mississippi), running from house to house, trampling bushes and flowers, and dashing across the street without looking both ways!

Admittedly, there are some good things that have happened to Halloween since I was a kid. Numerous communities, churches and other civic groups put on “fall festivals” that allows kids to dress up and get candy in a safe environment. I worked in the mall in the late 1980s and we would get a big stash of candy for kids to come to the mall. I always thought it was a good idea for those kids who lived in what might be a dangerous neighborhood or for those who lived so far out in the sticks that it would take an hour just to visit two or three neighbors. Some malls still do this, and I think it’s probably a pretty good idea.

But, you see the trend. It’s much easier to go from storefront to storefront and collect candy than it is to go from house to house.

The thing, I think, is that it probably doesn’t matter that much to the kids. I know mine would walk until their feet literally give out—which would be much later than mine!

What kind of message are these car creeping parents sending to their kids? Get in the car and slowly edge down the street—avoiding the oncoming traffic and the cars creeping equally slow just ahead—get out of the car and run to the house, get candy—which we all know will rot your teeth as well as make you fat (oh! Excuse me…weight challenged).

And there is no rhyme or reason to the way the cars act. Some use high beams and speed from one walkway to the next. Some use only parking lights and roll along at one mile an hour. Others pull up, shut the lights and engine off as if they were about to get out and visit, repeating the procedure at each house.

The funniest ones are those that run the air conditioner…with their windows down.

Maybe what we ought to consider putting on next year’s ballot is closing all neighborhood streets to cars during the hours of 6-9 on Halloween. The kids would certainly be much safer and we’d all be much healthier.

(a slightly different version of this—a one-kid version—ran in the Flo-Ala [Florence, Alabama] in 2001)

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Filed under Columns, family, Kids