Saunders: Devil isn't at the door

Staff WriterNovember 1, 2011 

"Aw, shaddup, old man. And hand over them Kit Kats."

The kid in the Goofy mask was far less interested in what I was saying than in the bag of candy I held half-hidden behind my back several years ago.

I was angry, first because I wasn't that old at the time, and second because an adult who was accompanying Goofy & the gang didn't snatch a knot in him for sassing a grown man.

Who could blame him and his masked pals for being upset, though? This was back when churches had first started preaching against Halloween and trick-or-treating, and I'd written a column that perturbed some pastors by suggesting they could certainly better expend their energies elsewhere. Kids, I wrote then, were after candy, not devil-worship.

To prove it, I'd vowed that any kid who got candy from me that year would have to answer one simple, innocuous question:

Do you worship the devil?

Now, that's when the adult with the kids decided it was time to split. "Come on, children. He doesn't have any good candy."

Oh, but I did.

It was impossible to tell whose children those were behind the masks and makeup, but it's for sure they weren't Dawn and David Ryerson's three.

"They've never been trick-or-treating, and they've never asked to go," Dawn Ryerson told me Monday. "That's because they have so much fun at the Fall Festival."

The Fall Festival is an annual event at the Calvary Chapel Cary church they attend in Apex, and it was something Pastor Rodney Finch came up with to keep children from celebrating the pagan holiday that is Halloween. Many churches in recent years have done the same thing for the same reason.

"We just believe that Halloween celebrates evil and spirits and devils," Assistant Pastor Ron Drake told me. "We don't think it's harmful, but the celebration of demonic things is wrong. We feel the Fall Festival is an alternative to Halloween where we can spread the Gospel message and give the kids some candy."

The Ryersons' children - ages 17, 7 and 4 - didn't get to partake in the carnival games, listen to live music, ride the pony or mechanical bull or hear a sermon from the Rev. Finch at Calvary on Monday night because the Fall Festival fell through.

"We decided that because the weather was so messy, we would call it off," Rev. Drake told me an hour or so before it was to begin.

Besides, had it been held, it was scheduled to end at 8:30 p.m. As any candy-gettin' connoisseur could tell you, that's when prime trick-or-treating begins: Younger kids have already turned in to count their Tootsie Rolls, Now and Laters and Sweetarts, and treaters ready to be done with the whole thing are apt to just dump a whole bag of Snickers in your pillow case.

Do you think that some kids will leave the various alternative fall fests and still go trick-or-treating?

Of course they will, because as someone - probably a dentist - once said, a child can never have too much candy.

Tell Barry what you think at 919-836-2811 or at

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