The Best Trick-Or-Treating Is Never In The “Fancy” Neighborhoods
We chose our neighborhood based on walking-to-candy ratios instead. Townhouses were best.
As perpetual renters we had to move around a lot and take what we could for most of my sons' childhood, and so when it came to Halloween, we got right in the car and drove to one of those prime trick-or-treating neighborhoods we never quite made it into. Yes, we were the people who drove to your fine neighborhoods to trick-or-treat.
We did not exclusively choose the richer neighborhoods mostly because I worried our broken-down minivan might give us away. Also the richer neighborhoods did not have the better candy or the better decor like I might have assumed. Doors were answered more often than not by frowning women holding a pottery bowl of the smallest Tootsie Rolls on offer in one hand, the other gripping the handle of the door as though we might burst in.
There were no smiles for us in the richer neighborhood. Even when my youngest was dressed as Clifford the Big Red Dog and his cheeks were so chubby they stuck out of his costume like dog jowls. Even when my second oldest son was dressed as Quidditch-playing Harry Potter and rode his broom to every house, trying to lift off with his toes as he whispered “Up!” periodically to himself.
No one cared about kids racing across lawns to get from door to door, everyone was out on the street talking and laughing and sneaking bites of their kids’ candy when they weren’t looking.
So no, we did not drive to the “rich” neighborhoods, which seems to be a thing people living in “rich” neighborhoods are dead terrified might happen. That we, the city’s great unwashed, might converge on them Purge-style and try to copy their window treatments or eat their fourth best candy. We chose our neighborhood based on walking-to-candy ratios instead. Townhouses were best. People decorated their garages as haunted houses and spent real money on good candy. They asked if they could take a picture of my oldest, dressed in a mish-mash of closet finds that we half-heartedly called “rock’n’roll vampire,” held his little brother’s hand and carried his round pumpkin carrier for him.
No one cared about kids racing across lawns to get from door to door, everyone was out on the street talking and laughing and sneaking bites of their kids’ candy when they weren’t looking. Parked cars lined both sides of the road, beaten up cars with booster seats strapped in the back. There were plenty of family costumes and you could always tell when the parents picked (dad is Batman, mom is Catwoman, kid is Robin — as if any kid would ever choose to be Robin) versus when the kids picked (daughter is Ariel, mom is Ursula, dad is Sebastian).
Every year we would run into the same people again and again in these neighborhoods. People driving their kids in from rural communities or apartment buildings or really just anti-Halloween neighborhoods where nary a Jack-o-Lantern graced a front porch. Lights in those neighborhoods were turned out by 7 p.m., tweens were lectured about letting the “little kids” have fun as though trick-or-treating isn’t the most fun at their age.
We trick-or-treated in that same neighborhood no matter where we moved, it was our constant. We knew what we were getting on those sidewalks in a way we didn’t know what we were getting anywhere else. We knew the dad who pretended to be a statue of Frankenstein every year. We knew he would growl or move or reach out for kids and we knew we would scream in shock like it was the first time. We knew which houses gave out bags of actual Doritos, which house would turn their front yard into a scary cemetery with funny names on the headstones. And to us, this was the richest neighborhood in town.