Halloween is a time of the year marked with memories for me. As an old childhood friend reminded me this week, “your brother’s Halloween party was the coolest birthday ever!” Living on a busy street where we received lots of trick-or-treaters from residents in rural Starkey and Bonsack, our door was filled with scary faces and clowns from four thirty in the afternoon until my older sister came home from her trick-or-treating well after dark. Having a birthday party and handing out goodies to spooks finally led my mom to give up supper on Halloween night and give in to a meal of candied apples, popcorn balls, ginger snaps and candy.

I live in a small town with plenty of families where I receive trick-or-treaters. The young children are accompanied by their parents and teen agers have fun going through the neighborhood with their friends.
This year, I noticed almost every child said “thank you” for the treats they took out of my orange pumpkin basket. The face makeup was more artistic than I ever remember, even on the youngest faces, and the costumes ranged from intricate glittery mesh and skins from some new Halloween store to creative homemade outfits.

But, I had loads of friends who had no trick-or-treaters. They said children don’t go through their neighborhood anymore. Parents are fearful and would rather take their children trunk-or-treating. I learned this meant the child was taken to a parking lot where lots of vehicles are decorated and their trunks are open for taking treats. Children apparently traipse around a parking lot instead of walking through their neighborhood. I can see this in rural Nebraska or Iowa where the houses and villages are miles apart. And I think this strategy is great for a neighborhood fraught with crime or safety issues but that is not the norm.

What made me consider these different experiences, neighborhood trick-or-treating vs. trunk-or-treating, was this; several of the small children and teenagers recognized me when I answered the door. One teenager said, “oh, you’re the lady who came to teach our creative writing class” and another child said, “hey, you’re grandma’s friend!”

I was instantly aware that trick-or-treating in neighborhoods does build community. I was transported back to my young days of trick-or-treating when I decided where to go when I needed to pee or if I wanted to ask for a glass of water. I knew so many people throughout my area of town and I knew I’d be welcome if I needed anything.

Trunk-or-treating may be great for some areas of the country but I hope the masses don’t get too lazy and let the drive-through mentality rob all our children of another aspect of a close knit community!