Halloween in Anchorage meant costumes worn over bulky snowsuits. It meant cold, snowy, moonless nights trick-or-treating in our protected little neighborhood. The big question was always, would there be snow?
Halloween was homemade costumes. My siblings and I were hobos once. Eyebrow pencil stubble on our chins, gel in our hair and then tousled, oversized clothes tied up with a rope. I was a gypsy once, flowy skirt of my mothers and a scarf tied around my head. One time the four of us were a caterpillar. We were wrapped in a sheet, garbage can lid as a face. It was creative enough, but awkward to trick-or-treat in. We abandoned it pretty quickly.
Halloween was safe when we were kids. We went door to door without a care. My mom dressed us up, gave us a pillowcase and directions to be home by 8:00pm, then sent us out with a pack of kids to trick-or-treat without another thought. The older you got, the further away from home you went. No parents. No testing candy. No houses off limits. The only thing we had to worry about was bigger kids stealing our candy.
Somewhere in the early seventies, my trick-or-treating days now over, news of poisoned Halloween candy took off like wildfire. By the time Scott and I had trick-or-treaters of our own it was a new, enlightened Halloween. We took our girls to families we trusted. We stayed with them. We checked over their candy and threw away anything homemade or suspicious.
Halloween in Ketchikan meant raincoats over costumes. Umbrellas. Blustery, windy nights spent trick-or-treating on Jackson Street. If not Jackson street, we might stop by a “trunk-or-treat,” hosted by a trustworthy organization. The big question though? Would it rain?
Costumes were easy. They lined the aisles of grocery stores, if Laura wanted to be Belle, it was easy enough to purchase the yellow gown and tiara. Gracie loves Tellie Tubbies? Get her a Po costume. We still pulled together the occasional homemade costume. Gypsy? Rapping soccer ref? Vampire hippie? you couldn’t buy those kind of costumes.
What will Halloween for this generation of trick-or-treaters look like? It is hard to imagine.