Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hallowed suburban ground

We in Centerpointe Section 9 passed our final litmus test of "subdivision viability" last night: for the first time ever, we had streets teeming with kids trick-or-treating for Halloween.
The scene near dusk with the first wave of the smallest kids.
It was only around May of 2012 that this section's last spec house sold, which means that for the 2010 and 2011 Halloween nights, there were fewer participants.  Nobody wants to have to navigate their kids around muddy streets, waste piles, mountains of mortar sand, and orange construction fences, so many people simply went elsewhere for our first two formative years.

I had well over one hundred kids and had to turn off our lights before the evening was over because I completely ran out of treats. 
I'm a bit of a radical in handing out fresh popcorn as well as candy.  I always put my address on each bag (house number concealed on this photo but not on the actual bags) so that parents will know where the stuff came from and hopefully will realize that no aspiring Halloween ax murderer would bother to identify themselves this way.  I don't know what parents ultimately think of this idea, but the kids absolutely LOVE it because it's something different. 

I popped eighteen bags of Boy Scout popcorn, with each bag being enough to stuff about three of these zipper baggies.  My house will probably reek of popcorn for the next month! 
As with previous Halloweens in other subdivisions where I've lived over the years, I did notice many, many unfamiliar faces last night.  This is a well-known trend (here also) and it's not always graciously received by folks.  The speculation as to why lower-income people trick-or-treat in neighborhoods like Centerpointe often comes round to the notion that lower-income people can't afford to pass out candy and therefore, if those kids go around in their own neighborhoods, they won't receive much. 

I tend to doubt that.  Have you looked at the price of candy recently?  It's dirt cheap.  To hand out two pieces of candy costs about thirteen cents per child, and that's assuming you buy it in a name-brand store at full price, like I did at the last minute yesterday.  I suspect that most people could swing this magnitude of an outlay regardless of their prevailing socioeconomic status.

I suspect that the real reason is much simpler in many cases: people can walk in places like Centerpointe.  Remember, Halloween is hands-down the single most intensive pedestrian social activity in which we engage as a culture.  Many people get out and walk on Halloween who never set foot outside their houses any other day of the year.  Most kids walk with a few parents or older siblings in "pods" - little groups of people who know each other and travel around together.  It's almost impossible to safely herd a group of over-excited cats, er, kids, in places where no sidewalks are present.  We have sidewalks here and sidewalks don't exist in many lower-income areas.  The impact of that cannot be overstated. 

Regardless of the reason, I certainly wouldn't begrudge those unfamiliar, wide-eyed little faces a helping of goodies.  Including popcorn that I hope their parents realize is safe, like basically all of the goodies out there regardless of whether or not it's prepackaged junk or home-made stuff that's actually much healthier (here is the Snopes article describing how there's never been a genuine random case of kid poisoning via Halloween goodies). 

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