Halloween Not Malloween

Back in New York Halloween has changed over the years.  When I was a kid there was trick or treating of course.  I’d dress up, usually as a ghost or maybe a skeleton if I was feeling adventurous, and go house to house in the neighborhood.  Possibly because we lived on a main road, people would come in from other parts of the county.  Some years we’d be absolutely slammed with trick or treaters.  Then a funny thing happened: the Mall.  

Around 1996 The Palisades Center opened up and nothing has been the same.  Ever since then people have taken to retreating there to do there trick or treating.  There is even a name for it: Mall-o-ween.   Kids walk around in costume and get candy from various stores, although not all of them participate.  There are compelling reasons to do this: safety, convenience, the weather. However it is not the same.  People still come around to my parents houses, but not like they used to.

Albany was the same way.  Not only were there two malls but the entrance to my apartment was inside the building (as opposed to my current place where my door leads directly outside).  Also I lived on a side street which few people entered unless they were going to a house in the area.  Thus not one single person came to my door on Halloween.  The first year I went to the trouble of buying candy only to see the few kids out and about walk by my street without even looking.  After that I didn’t bother.

Things are a bit different down here.   With no malls in Cleveland people still trick or treat the old fashioned way.  In fact kids come in from all over.  I am told that church groups from surrounding towns will rent vans and bring children in to town just to go door to door.  Thus a friend of mine reported that every year she has around 200 kids come to her door.  This all makes a great deal of sense.  Most of the towns and villages surrounding Cleveland are tiny and rural.  You can’t really trick or treat in the middle of a corn field.  So, as with shopping, it’s perfectly reasonable to expect parents who live in those places to come to an area that’s more conducive to walking around.  Plus Delta State has an annual event called Trunk or Treat where Athletes and others from the Athletic department park their cars in a central location so kids can walk by and get candy from the trunks.  I’m told this year was packed.

Sadly all of the above is second hand knowledge.  The Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce was celebrating the inauguration of Delta State’s incoming President, Bill LaForge, with a community cookout complete with live music.  By the time I got back, trick or treating was over.  But next year I’ll probably stay home and report on how many people come by.  Nevertheless learning that people still trick or treat was a bit of a surprise.  Things in the Delta tend to be old fashioned like that for better and for worse.  It has certainly made for an interesting experience.

Article by Mike

Mike is the Head of Discovery Services for the Delta State University Library. He has lived in Cleveland since May 2013.

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