It takes a Halloween village to face hordes of trick-or-treaters

I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. On Halloween. This morning the radio announced a weather forecast of a “100% chance of rain.” 100%. Are forecasters even allowed to say 100% about anything that isn’t already happening? Regardless, the forecast is not promising.

If it rains the evening could be disappointing on a several levels. My children are excited for trick-or-treating, of course. We will take them out no matter what the weather, but it will be a pain in the ass. Luckily my cat-obsessed daughter is dressing as a cat to which we could easily add her Hello Kitty rainboots, Hello Kitty rain coat, and cat-shaped umbrella. The boy is Batman, and black umbrellas are easy to come by. Still, we probably won’t walk as far as we normally do.

The bigger disappointment is if the rain keeps other trick-or-treaters away. As I’ve written about before, we’ve gotten nearly 1,200 trick-or-treaters for each of the two Halloweens we’ve lived on this street. But there was good weather for both of those Halloweens. (Actually, I read today that an inch or more of rain has fallen on Halloween in Chicago only three times since 1872. Fuck you for wanting to be special, Halloween of 2013!) I have no idea how rain will alter our numbers. If they decrease substantially I’ll be left with a lot of candy and a much more boring evening than usual.

When I tell people that we get over 1,000 trick-or-treaters I’m pretty sure some people don’t believe me (But I count them! I have the notebook!), but those who do believe me always ask me how much candy I buy. The answer, as I wrote about here, is a lot, but candy isn’t the only thing it takes to serve that many trick-or-treaters.

It takes help.

On Halloween we invite over friends. It’s not a standard party, although we do provide food and drinks. The friends we invite over are helpers, and it would be a heck of a lot harder to make it through Halloween without them.

First is the fact that we need to take our kids out trick-or-treating. My husband and I could split duties with one of us staying home, but we both want to witness the cuteness! Also, the girl (at two and a half) still moves a bit slower and tires a bit faster than the boy (at four and a half). It’s nice to have two parents on duty so that no one has to get frustrated with the other’s pace, particularly when the girl is ready to go home but the boy wants to go one more block.

By having friends over our house isn’t lame and not participating during the period when we are out. (Don’t tell me I could leave out a bowl. I’m not crazy. It would be gone in a minute.) The friends are on candy distribution (and kid counting duty) until we return.

trick-or-treater count
A few pages from last year’s trick-or-treater count. Note the different handwriting.

Once we are back there are a variety of things that need to be done that would be difficult to juggle with only two adults.

  • Handing out candy (Core competency)
  • Refilling the oversized candy distribution pumpkin from the bin where the rest of the candy is (Bags pre-opened. There is no time for opening bags)
  • Keeping the official tally of trick-or-treaters (This is the most important job!)
  • Amusing my children and try to keep them from eating ALL their candy in one sitting (At least trying!)
  • Eventually putting my kids to bed (No bath, but toothbrushing…ideally)
  • Fetching and/or eating food and beverages (We must keep up our strength!)
  • Going to the bathroom (See beverage item above)

The whole thing is a lot easier when you can rotate in and out of any of the above roles. Last year our friends’ eight year old took over handing out candy for a while. He seemed thrilled to be in charge.

We are not alone in this team approach to trick-or-treat fulfillment. Many people on our block have similar porch parties with people often bringing bags of candy to donate to the cause. (We had help like that this year when my parents sent two Amazon boxes with candy they ordered as donations to the effort.)

Despite the ominous weather forecast we do have friends coming over tomorrow. If there aren’t a lot of trick-or-treaters they can help by eating candy, drinking hard cider and generally being awesome during what could be a lackluster evening.

Regardless of what happens tomorrow, thank you to all those friends who have manned (and womanned and childed) our porch for all our Halloweens here. Thank you too to the neighbors who warned us about Halloween so that we could be adequately prepared for year one.

And thank you to all the kids who bring so much joy and excitement by trick-or-treating on our street, and who helped me rediscover the joy of Halloween.

*   *   *

This post was a part of ChicagoNow’s second Blogapalooz-Hour. ChicagoNow bloggers were the challenge to “Write about a time you helped someone, or a time that you received help,” and we were given only one hour to write it. I managed to do this and stick to the Halloween theme I’ve had all month!

For the month of October Listing Toward Forty has been Listing Toward Halloween, featuring a variety of Halloween posts including many by guest authors. All posts from this series can be found here.

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