Things have changed alot for Halloween since I was a kid, and I think that’s for the better. There are communities that have trick-or-treating, bobbing for apples, costume contests, and other fun events at their fire stations, churches, apartment buildings, or other locations. I also think that these events have a tendency for increased safety, rather than kids going door-to-door in their area, or even in surrounding neighborhoods. One never knows the type of person who will be standing on the other side of the door, and/or what state or mood he or she might be in.
It was different when I was a kid. Kids always walked around the neighborhood, dressed in their Halloween costumes. We went door-to-door in my neighborhood in Collins, New York, a small, rural town outside of Buffalo. I always remember that one of my parents took my brother and I around the neighborhood, or a parent of our neighborhood friends did so. By about age 12, we were really considered too old for neighborhood trick-or-treating, however there were always many teenage boys in the neighborhood who continued to go out into their late teen years.
I remember, growing up, that there were at least three consecutive years in which my family’s house was egged by the older teenage boys. After this occurred for two years straight, my brother and I vowed that we would try to catch some of them in the act, as we anticipated that it would happen again. And, we were correct. What happened that third year that our house was egged was really shocking, incredible, and discouraging to me about these many teenage boys in our neighborhood, whom I henceforth considered to be bullies.
So, on that Halloween night when I was about 12 years old, we had just turned out the outside lights for the night. Only a few minutes passed before we heard banging sounds. Mom, my brother, and I were watching TV and looking over our candy from the Halloween haul. We all sprang into action. We all ran to the front door, and found that our house was being egged. My brother, who is younger than me, was the first one out of the house, running into the front yard, yelling and trying to scare the older boys off.
Following my brother out of the house, I lit out like I was on fire, racing after one of the slower boys after they all took off running. About 15-20 boys had lined the street, surrounding our house, which was situated on a street corner. So, all of these boys had a larger distance between us, and a better chance of getting away without being caught. I continued to chase after this one boy in my stocking feet, gaining on him. His heavy candy bag weighed him down as we ran through the back yards of three neighbors in the pitch darkness. Having played in those yards, I knew them well, running without benefit of any light, listening to the boy ahead of me without being able to see him well at all.
By the time we reached the third neighbor’s yard, I tackled the boy, and we fell to the ground. He was shocked that I not only caught up to him, but took him down. He was filled with so much fear and embarrassment that he left his candy bag behind – my prize. I took it home as evidence that I caught him, and was very proud of myself. The next day, my dad went to the home of that particular boy – because I knew who he was – and he talked to his dad about what had happened.
Never again after that was our house egged. It really shed a different light on all of those bullyish boys in the neighborhood who picked on my brother and I so much because we were good kids who always tried to turn the other cheek. Unfortunately, adhering to a “Christian” way of behaving in those regards often sends an inaccurate message to others that we weak rather than strong, as we actually were.
So, my message this evening is to be a friend, be a buddy. Don’t be a bully. Halloween can be a scary and upsetting time for many people, especially children. People’s nerves and emotions tend to run highly on Halloween, and it is no time for hurtful pranks and games that can turn ugly very fast. It is better to be safe than sorry, and be kind to others on this one day of the year that can become unpleasant rather than fun. Be a buddy, not a bully on Halloween!