“Who’s gonna run this town tonight.”

Once upon a time we lived in a small town.

Not my town.  My husband’s town.  It was an OK sort of place, not without its quirks.  Like the way nearly all the town’s businesses were shut on Mondays.  Or the way they printed obituaries on the front page of the newspaper.  Or the large horse ankle bone by the highway:


(which, really, deserves its own post, another time).

Suffice it to say, there were adjustments to be made.



The first year we lived there together, I came home one day, a week before Halloween, to find a note inside my door.  I scanned it, picked my jaw up off the floor, then waited for Owen to get home.

“What kind of Nazi regime are we living under!?!”  is how I greeted him at the door.

He looks at the note, casually puts it aside.  “Oh yeah, that’s just how we do it here.”


 What is in this little missive that shocks me so very much?

“This note is to inform you that you will be visited by 12 trick or treaters, sometime between 3:30 and 5:00 pm on October 30.  Please have your treats ready at that time.  Thanks for your cooperation.  Signed, The Town’s School.”

That’s right.  The school RAN Halloween.  They organized the kids into groups, Grade 6 and under.  They decided exactly which houses those groups would visit (approximately 20 houses per group).  And if Halloween had the audacity to fall on a non-school day? 


 They just moved it.


“But…but…how can they just…TAKE OVER?”  Halloween, as I understood it, was all about chaos.  How had no one protested this?  What about kids older than Grade 6, younger than school age that wanted to Trick or Treat?  Didn’t anyone have a problem being told which houses they were “allowed” to hit?

“Well, yeah.  It just sort of works.”  He tried to reassure me.  I was sure this system was just set up for failure.  Never mind that they’d been doing it this way for years, clearly, my outsider’s perspective would show them the grievous error of their ways.


So I waited, that Friday afternoon.  At exactly 4:00, 12 little kids came to my door.  Every one of them excited and happy to be there.  I had exactly enough candy, because I knew beforehand how many kids to expect.   The town’s little kids joined in, welcomed by the school to be part of the organized fun.  And the kids who were above Grade 6?  Were too damn old to Trick or Treat anyway.  So they didn’t.  And even with all those uber-polite little kids saying thank you, and showing off their costumes, the whole shebang took less than 15 minutes.  At which time I was free to enjoy my Halloween weekend in whatever non-kid way I chose.


Now that we live in the city, I will spend my Saturday night freezing my arse off, repeatedly opening my door to kids who will traipse through my neighborhood starting at I-haven’t-even-finished-supper-yet until man-I-wish-this-was-over-I’m-going-to-turn-off-the-lights-and-pretend-we’re-not-here.   I may run out of candy, because there’s no way of knowing how many kids there will be.  Kids who are way too old to be trick or treating will get candy from me, because I don’t want them to throw things at my house.  And even if I wanted to do something grown up on a Saturday night, I’ll be too tired by the time it’s all over.



Oh, those small-town rubes and their quaint customs…


50 responses to ““Who’s gonna run this town tonight.”

  1. Our town has “Halloween” on the Saturday closest to the holiday, which we didn’t know the first year we lived here! They also only do it for like 3 hours in the afternoon so no late night visits either! I like it much better than the doorbell ringing at 9:30 pm even though the lights are off! And the large horse ankle bone? What is THAT all about?

    • The system has its pluses.

      The horse ankle bone is a huge scale model of the ones used to play bunnock.

      Google it.

      If you’re curious/bored/maybe both.

  2. Efficient though it may be, that town sounds like one of the creepiest places ever established by God or man.

  3. The number of trick-or-treaters we get is fairly predictable. We live on a street with only 8 houses, none of which have children other than ours, you have to cross a busy street to get to us, and there aren’t any street lights. Basically, we buy the candy that we want to eat because the majority of the smallest bag they sell this time of year will be left over.

    Luckily for us, the calories don’t count because we didn’t buy the candy for us, we were just forced to eat it because it was left over. Also, the calories don’t count on the candy we confiscate from our daughters because they look suspicious. It’s amazing how many ‘suspicious’ Reese’s peanut butter cups they get.

  4. Was the name of this town Stepford?! That is one of the weirdest things I’ve ever heard.

    And think of those poor little kids telling stories of when they were growing up and only got to trick-or-treat at one house each year. No screaming through the neighborhood. No bags full of candy. No three-day sugar high afterward.

    Thank goodness for chaos.

    • No, no, they got to go to quite a few houses, I was just one of that group’s stops. They absolutely had a bag full of candy when they were done. Otherwise, I imagine there WOULD have been uproar.

  5. I was thinking of Stepford too!

    Ginny, we need more information about the ankle, before passing judgment on the entire town (and be assured I will pass judgment without ever going there myself). Nonetheless, the Halloween thing seems okay, but less fun for the kids.

  6. I’m still anti the whole thing. Nazi – run or not.

  7. Nice. At least it was well run enough that parents probably didn’t feel the need to have their candy x-rayed. Did the parents go with the kids even though school organized it? That’s the part I’d miss, seeing if my kids were being polite or sassy or scared or gimme gimme.

    • Yup, there were many parents. Probably nearly as many parents as kids.

      As to the how your kids act, funny story that happened to a guy we know:

      Kid comes to the door, “Trick or treat!” He gives the kid candy, and the mom says to the kid “What do you say?” The little girl looks up at the follicularily challenged dude and says “You have no hair.”

  8. Hee hee hee… I’ve had the (mis)fortune of spending some family reunions in that very place. (Not mine, my husband’s family.) Do you want two guesses, or three, of which last family that would involve!! LMAO!!! 😉

  9. i miss the chaos… we had freedom to cover as much turf as possible in 2 hours. and we spent the weeks before plotting our routes to maximize our return… noting where the fences were, the crabby people who gave out shit candy, and the ones likely to hand out the good stuff that we might re-visit on the return if we could work it.

    good training for life to let the l’il bastards run free… if you run out? just give ’em a bite of your sandwich or something…

  10. But what if someone wanted to run a haunted house? What if the big kids weren’t *actually* too old, but they felt like they had to pretend they weren’t interested? Were you allowed to give out soda instead of candy? (Those houses were always very popular in my neighbourhood.)

    I can’t imagine ever giving up the freedom I had during Halloween. After all, how many other times are 10 year olds allowed to run around on their own after dark?

  11. we don’t really celebrate it that much here in Oz

  12. ohk, there’s a huge part of me that loves such an efficient, thought-out halloween. but having been turned loose on the streets and gone trick-or-treating throughout high school (ohk, and in college – but we collected canned goods and did a big donation to the local food shelf… and maybe took the candy if it was offered).

    part of the fun was always figuring out who gave the best candy… kids would stop and converse en route, and the houses that gave out king size candy bars? that’s when we arranged costume-swaps so we could re-visit the houses and get more. yes, we were greedy. we were also kids.

    i try to partake in halloween now that i’m an “adult” by handing out candy…. but i’ve stopped since i now only get two kids. if it’s been a good year. it just isn’t the same!

  13. Just because I stay at home doesnt mean I'm unemployed

    I LOVE IT! I might like Halloween again if something like that were in my neighborhood. Child 4 had to bring his costume to school for a party during the day. His PTA had a fall party a week ago that was a fundraiser. Then Child 2 and 3’s school had an afterschool party that they were all hyped up for and and that was free because it was paid for by previous fundraising. Then my dear husband’s office had a party that started before school had even let out so most of the good candy was gone by the time my tribe got there but they had a tv playing Charlie Brown and crafts so it was all good for me. Then we still have the church’s “fall fun fest” left to attend on the actual day of Halloween. We honestly have more engagements for Halloween than for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter all put together.
    I have always believed that a little organization can go a long way.
    BTW it might be nice for the school to have a little party in the cafeteria for the “big kids” but otherwise it is brilliant.

  14. Whoa, the ankle bone is also catching my attention…I think my ex-boss was from that town. He tried to explain the ankle bone tossing festival to my bored under-30 ass one year, and I had to restrain the eye-rolling…

  15. Um, that’s a bit weird. I guess it worked for them. But it really encourages the age of none believing out there. My mom set us loose throughout our high school years, believing if big kids were trick-or-treating, then they weren’t causing trouble. We kept on eye out for trouble too. My beef is the parents who collect candy WITH their one year old last night. I had two sets of them. Dude, when you’ve got your own spawn, no trick-or-treating anymore, just buy the candy.

  16. michael.offworld

    “Rubes,” I love that word. Must use it soon.

  17. We are just back from visiting friends who moved into a Vacaville, CA, housing development cult-de-sac which is Halloween wild… which was a hoot, but I too was bugged by the parents with tiny kids in strollers who roll up wanting candy. Fortunately, I could ignore the parents, look at the babies, tell them they were too young for candy and put a fancy pencil in “their” bag. Goat gotten.

    Shep Herder

  18. Wow. Seriously? That’s creepier than Halloween itself.
    Oh, and I love it how the horse bone makes me think of cock-n-balls.

  19. Some little east-cost town in New Brunswick or Nova Scotia just moved the whole thing to next week this year – due to swine flu! Are you serious?! How does that even work? I’m sure the spirits and whatnot are thrilled about having to just sit around for an extra week before getting their haunt on.

    And yeah, that horse bone….my mind is obviously in the gutter. (Well, to be fair, when is it ever anywhere else?)

  20. All I can say to anyone that sees that ankle bone and gets dirty thoughts is you have way too much experience with under-equipped men.

    One night a year kids get to run the world. As much as an orderly Halloween might appeal to the OCD population, it is meant to be chaotic and fun. Running it like a military drill would make it about as fun as going to church. Thanks, but I’m happy to live with the chaos.

  21. Was it a small town in southern Germany? The only thing I find redeeming about Halloween is the chaos. I was living in a small town in Misery one Halloween and my year old husky escaped when some kids came to my door. Watching dozens of little witches/hobos/gremlins help me chase my stupid dog all over time was just awesome.

    • While it’s NOT in Germany, the town’s most predominant ethnicity? German. Hardcore. Like, people whose grandparents were born here? Still have accents.

  22. But that’s… that’s just… wrong? Somehow. I don’t know, man. You can’t put rules on Halloween, can you?

  23. Hmmm… Can’t say I love the sound of that. It’s creepy. Reminds me of that planet the kids visit to find their father in A Wrinkle in Time…

    Everything matching, perfectly organized, timed and in-sync.


    • It wasn’t THAT perfect; a rogue first grader totally broke away from the pack, ran past me into my house and tried to make herself at home in my living room.

  24. Kind of bizarre, but I can also see the allure. I’d be interested to know what other holidays they “organize”.

    • What, your town doesn’t synchronize the Opening of the Stockings on Christmas Morning? At precisely 7:53? What kind of anarchy are you people up to down there?

  25. I had a hard time getting past the large horse ankle bone. 🙂

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