Garner: Opinion

Column: Holiday not for the faint of heart

By Johnny Whitfield

Johnny Whitfield
Johnny Whitfield ehyman@newsobserver.com

Young trick-or-treaters dressed up in all manner of costumes, from beautiful princesses to Darth Vader and every scary movie character in between will soon be stalking the streets in your neighborhood.

Halloween is, in my book, mostly a great bit of fun. After the year my mother dressed me up as a girl, I managed every year afterward to talk her into letting me pick out a costume at the Mack’s store in Zebulon.

I’m sure you can imagine what it does the psyche of a 5-year-old boy to be dressed up in his mother’s wig and dress.

I am old enough that when I was trick-or-treating age it was relatively safe for Mom and Dad to send you off trick-or-treating through the neighborhood by ourselves. We were told to take off our masks when we were walking from one house to the other so we could see cars that might be coming down the street. And we were told not to eat any candy until we got home.

My brother and I obeyed the first rule The second one, not so much.

I do recall one year, making my way around Green Willow Circle (we called it Yankee Circle in those days, for some reason.) The neighborhood was filled with nice, large homes all of which had large lots with lots of trees.

As we approached one house, we got nearly to the door when someone in a costume jumped out at us from behind a tree. I’ve never been so scared in all my life. I screamed like a sissy and hoped I could outrun my brother so the monster might eat him instead and be satisfied.

That was the end of our trick-or-treating that night. We sprinted the two blocks home and nearly knocked each other down trying to get in the door first. I never, ever, ever went back to that house trick-or-treating. To this day, I could walk you down Yankee Circle in Wendell and point the house out to you.

There won’t be any such scary shenanigans going on in Garner this year. Instead the emphasis will be on fun when when the town hosts its Trick or Treat the Trails at White Deer Park on Oct. 31.

The events are great fun. It’s easy to smile when you see such animated children. They are excited, of course, because they know there’s candy involved, but there’s also a great sense of excitement in dressing up as something you’re not. Or something you want to be one day.

The best entries in these events, though, are the families who all dress up for the occasion. Mom, Dad, even the family dog. That’s a hoot to see. A little extreme maybe, but, hey, isn’t there a little kid in all of us?

I never chose to dress for Halloween when I was the parent of a trick-or-treat-aged child.

But in an extreme example of the apple not falling far from the tree, I took it upon myself to make a homemade costume for my daughter, Anna Kate, on her first foray into trick-or-treat land. I decided she should be a sunflower. I made the petals and connected them with pipe cleaners and tape. Lots of tape, it turns out. I made those petals so doggone big, poor old Anna Kate could barely keep them on her head.

But, we dressed her up in green tights, a green shirt and off we went into the night, looking in earnest for more treats than tricks. Anna Kate was patient with my craftsmanship until we finished with the last house on our route. Then off came the posterboard petals and she dove into her bag of goodies as I carried her costume back to the car.

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