Halloween, A Barometer of Health
By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu
Back in the 70’s in certain neighborhoods in Michigan or apartment complexes, on Halloween children got into costumes and went door to door with little pumpkins or bags or even pillow cases to fit more candy. People put up decorations and in big bowls handed out candy to every neighborhood child generally between 5-8 PM on Halloween. In 2017, it appears that some neighborhoods are too dangerous for children to go door to door and it becomes a “barometer of health” for a community, is my community safe for children? Back in the 70’s elementary school teachers at schools like Spartan Village Elementary prepared kids for Trick or Treating giving them directions to “check” all their candy or beware of apples or unpackaged goods that could be tampered with. Some people loved the opportunity to give to local children and gave Halloween pencils. Generally when candy ran out, people starting giving pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters to children and the average child came home with a little cash. People hauled out those big jars of saved coins and some even wrapped pennies in cloth or plastics. Children got home and spread out their candies, organizing selections and counting candy bars, checking for favorites and even engaging in a few swaps with siblings. These are the kids with silver fillings in every tooth that hit the dentist when they drilled cavities. Halloween was great!
Some parents get together with friends and make their children’s bags of candy entirely themselves without going door to door. Some parents also hire a tailor to make their children’s costumes. Buy a cake, make punch and play music and games. Working professionals are finding solutions to make sure their kids have the best of times. It’s also good to start planning Halloween two months in advance, so around August, some people start to plan Halloween. Some parents will organize 20 or so houses in their neighborhood for children to Trick or Treat at and place signs on all their doors. Some even drive around for Trick or Treating.
People with children may want to look for solutions for continuing the holiday and also problem solving within their community when people don’t seem to be safe with children. One possible solution would be to have the police perform background checks and issue signage for front lawns and front doors to alert children that this household is a checked and safe household that wants to participate in the holiday. It would be great if the police issued certified Halloween signs. Signs could also be posted like “sorry kids candy has run out.” It’s interesting to see which neighborhoods are still able to maintain the holiday with ease and without crime that may be better places to raise children.
Some possible alternatives could be for businesses to develop their client base of the future and participate in handing out candies. Another would be for shopping malls to be safe places for Halloween trick or treating. Schools may have their own Halloween festivities that kick off the day. Back in the 70’s kids were bobbing for apples, playing musical chairs, eating cupcakes and generally having spooktacular good times.
One solution I heard of were these pop up warehouses that feature haunted houses etc. and you pay a general admission and go around to stands collecting a variety of candy. What Halloween ends up being is a holiday geared towards safety and how to have a good time, safely.
There are many ways to catch the fever at cider mills or on farms or on hay rides or planning parties or making a bonfire, or even with an outdoor fireplace, singing songs or sewing costumes, or making quick breads or shopping for old and traditional Halloween candies or writing spooky stories or telling stories or making a goth writing group or wearing rainbow hair or wigs or black eyeliner, or maybe a trip to the cemetery to visit the dead.
It is up to each of us to use this opportunity to make our neighborhoods safer for children. People may want to distribute photocopies to get it going in their neighborhood or schedule a neighborhood meeting or even consult the police. It’s time to gear up for next year! The City of Ann Arbor had a lot of festivities planned for the holiday and distributed an email that went around. Things were planned in parks as well as setting official kick off times and closing times. Halloween can be a fun way to engage in community building.
It may even be nice in student areas to promote some college trick or treating for older students who would love a big bag of diverse candy. Don’t forget to wear your spirited colors like orange and black.
In other parts of the world Halloween may be holidays like Dia de los muertos or Day of the Dead in Mexico. Halloween may also be a time of witch covens or paganism. Search your local public library for books on Day of the Dead or interesting Halloween celebrations! Halloween just passed but make a good plan for next year!!!
Don’t forget to stock up on oral care, preserve your teeth and make a trip to the dentist!! You may even want Prilosec for those belly aches?