Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Come and Gone

Halloween has come and gone and left a lot of candy behind. Unlike in most parts of the country, trick or treating around here is confined to a specific time on October 31, usually between 6 and 8 PM. That used to be the perfect time back before Daylight Savings Time became Practically the Whole Damn Year Around Time, because on October 31 at 6 PM it was just getting dark. Most of the trick or treaters in our neighborhood arrived between 6 and 7, with a sprinkling of some of the older kids showing up between 7 and 8. Now the peak traffic is between 6:30 and 7:30.

As part of an anti-Klan movement in the mid-1920’s, Louisiana has an anti-masking law that forbids the wearing of masks and hoods in public. The law can be suspended by public officials for holidays like Halloween and Mardi Gras, but it can also be invoked to restrict the hours of celebration.

One year, back in the 70’s or 80’s, the then mayor of Baton Rouge got the bright idea to move trick-or-treating to November 1, because there was an LSU home football game on October 31. He was afraid that the police force would be stretched too thin if they had to provide security both for the game and for trick or treaters. This rescheduling not go over well. Many parents decided to let their children trick or treat on Halloween anyway, reasoning that no one was going to bust a six year old for wearing a Cinderella costume. Citizens were unsure whether to prepare to give out candy on Halloween, the next day, or both. The experiment was not repeated.

Nowadays a lot of children don’t wear masks with their costumes anyway. They restrict vision and can be unsafe. I see a lot of children in face paint instead. The limited hours for trick or treating persist anyway, because people like them. You aren’t tied to your house from the time school lets out in the afternoon until the last hardy soul goes home and to bed, and it cuts down on the amount of candy you need to buy and distribute. It also allows time for post trick or treating parties, not to mention homework.

This year we had far fewer visitors than in the past. My husband always buys too much candy, but this year we have two unopened bags plus two half filled bags left. (We liked to open two at a time and give a mix of items.) In my working days leftover Halloween candy went to work with me to be given out as treats or got packed a bit at a time with my husband’s lunch. Now I think a lot of it is going to take up space in the freezer, to cut down on mindless consumption. Better that than taking up space around my waist. 

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