This is Thriller, Thriller Night!
Returning Halloween Trick-or-Treating in Milwaukee back to Saturday Night!
I will be dating myself in this article, but for good reason. In the 70’s we enjoyed night time trick-or-treating and all the things that Halloween conjured up leading up to that event. Moms would help us make costumes (no one dared come out of the house without one), dads would decorate the house and surrounding areas, neighbors would come together to assure safety, and earn bragging rights for their decorations or pumpkin carving skills! Pumpkins were left untouched and lit up the porches and streets at night to celebrate the coming of this most boisterous event for everyone. It was a community celebration that rivaled the old fashioned block party. It was a block party and everyone played a role, even that grumpy old neighbor would contribute something or risk getting egged!
The streets were filled with ghosts and goblins, princesses and superheroes, or beloved cartoon characters hauling bags heaped with goodies, fruit (yuk!) and pennies! Afterwards we bragged about our costumes, the candy count, the merriment! It was indeed a great time to be a kid in Milwaukee. The 70’s were simply magical despite the negativity we were sheltered from and/or took a truce from on occasions such as Halloween.
Now we fast forward to today. Because of over sensationalized news stories about crime and food tampering during trick-or-treating; Milwaukee like many cities moved its official trick-or treat hours to Sunday afternoon. On Sunday afternoon, vans of costume-less kids and ghetto “adults” steer the vans into the “good” communities to beg for their treats. People get mad with each passing year because there are fewer and fewer doors that open up. The destruction of pumpkins and tearing down of Halloween decorations has replaced this once pleasurable community building exercise. Possibly this happens in retaliation to the time change or maybe in response to the closed doors and lack of participants.
I feel it is time to take back our Halloween nights like so many of our surrounding neighbors do. In fact Mayor Barrett celebrates with Washington Heights and does not participate in the “Sunday Funday” event he helps continue! Like our good neighbors, we too can reinstate night time trick-or treating and get back to community building and all the things we used to do, if we are willing to work at it. I know there will always be people who ruin the fun, but if the good outnumber the bad, we can certainly give it a try. We now know that crime is down in Milwaukee thanks to Chief Flynn’s constant reminders of such. We also know that the stories of sabotaged candies and treats were unfortunately mostly family related and are not as wide spread as we were first told. In fact they are few and far between. We also have x-ray machines that can scan goodie bags in seconds and if needed, some communities ask for donations and have a few representatives buy the candy and disperse it among the participating households.
Since I am familiar with Washington Heights, I will use them as the example of what we are missing out on. I already discussed the community building aspects, but they do A LOT!! Movies in the streets, games and face painting, streets blocked off for safety for the little ones who can dance and play in the streets, awards for best costume, best house decoration, best concepts and much, much more. One year I saw a small flash mob perform “Thriller” and it was fantastic! The kids are treated to quality family time and the night is a spectacle that is worthy of revisiting as a citywide happening. Neighbors volunteer as security working each corner and barricade. Other than the kid who ate too much candy, there are few incidents or disturbances reported.
However if you go to the Heights on Sunday afternoon, including the mayor’s house, you won’t get much. It is liken to a barren wasteland of what appeared to be a great party. Remnants of what looked like a “festival of fright” are all that remain. People every single year drive to the “good” houses in search of the “good” candy, lined up with blaring vans, extra bags for “ailing” relatives, and no costumes, all for not. Washington Heights like many surrounding communities already did Halloween the night before and they don’t do Sunday much anymore if at all. Many communities are doing their own thing in the evening hours on Saturday nights like Washington Heights and are meeting with great support. Meanwhile it is a fading tradition here in Milwaukee because point blank the daytime event sucks! Not to mention how boring it is to get in a costume and parade around in the middle of the day taking the fun and thrill away from night time events. It is not scary; unless you include the “depths of ghetto” people will exhibit. That is scary indeed! Adults, parents, a little fyi…grow up and act like you have sense! Pretend if you must. Do it for the children. Spend some time with your kids and train them in the way they should go! You are robbing the next generation of an outright good time and the freeing experiences of being a kid participating in a very old and rich tradition in Halloween. Also would it hurt to clean up after yourself and teach your kids to not walk on grass and use trash cans? Yes a teachable moment can also be had during trick-or-treating. How ignorant can some people be? You don’t have to answer, I already know!
My thoughts are that maybe if Milwaukee did bring back trick-or-treating to Saturday nights, maybe the not-so-knowledgeable people (aka hood rats) will learn how it’s done. Maybe their kids will get to enjoy Halloween as it was meant to be. Maybe they too will enjoy the nighttime bewitching Halloween fun and start to pitch in with community building efforts such as this. They would get to know their immediate neighbors, they would get to meet and talk with MPD and city officials in a positive setting, feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves, and of course walk away with some great treats and smiling, painted faces. Why should we keep depriving kids of this fun Hallowed Eve for the sake of things that are no longer relevant? If Chief Flynn and Mayor Barrett say Milwaukee is safe, we believe them right? If the candy tampering was mostly due to a few highly publicized domestic issues, it would be simple to have scanners on standby. Last I checked hospitals were still scanning goodie bags. There are also portable scanners as well.
Time to take back the night and rebuild our communities in an uplifting and positive way. Please Mayor Barrett (and Common Council), since you are on this “Sabbath” kick (much like Obama’s Beer Summit), how about a Halloween Sabbath and give us back our night time trick-or-treating just like your kids get to have?
I have included the 2011 Haunted House and Halloween Guide provided by Onmilwaukee.com
Shepherd Express Milwaukee Halloween Guide
Support MPL. Our Libraries Need Us!
Please do help support some of our other local Nature Spots and your local library as they too offer great Family Halloween events that we need to attend. Especially the library since the city wants to cut hours and deems it not as valuable. It truly is valuable and we need to show our support to our libraries!!