A Halloween Question For The Ages

Something’s been bugging me since Halloween, and for many Halloweens actually.

Is it cool for people to pack up and drive over to other neighborhoods for trick or treating?

Let me preface this with saying, we pretty much do this ourselves, so maybe I am about to put myself before the firing squad. But here’s the thing – we (the three of us) go over to our best friend’s house (the three of them) and walk around together.

Their neighborhood apparently has turned into the destination of choice for candy, because every year, I see more and more people driving up, parking, getting out, and running around the neighborhood looking for candy. Tons and tons and tons of people.

Go ahead and call me a hypocrite because technically I do the same thing, but is this fair? That the the folks from this one neighborhood who happen to have more money – should they have to bear the burden for all? I am seeing more and more porch lights off in my friend’s neighborhood, ostensibly because they are getting sick of handing out candy to strangers?

I assume eventually all the lights will go out in the neighborhood.

And then what?

Yes, I really am talking about Halloween candy, but what is interesting is how my feelings that night really got me thinking about the political tension in our country right now… how it comes down to candy.

And that I applaud those folks with their porch lights on.

This article has 27 comments

  1. Jenanne

    I think if they know someone in the area or are coming from the country and have no houses around them where they live it’s okay… other then that people are just being greedy, I’ve seen parents drive their children from neighbourhood to neighbourhood just so they can get the best stuff; that is just rude.

  2. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Really good point – life would be so much easier with balance of greed and generosity.

  3. Meghann

    We cross a busy road to trick or treat, because our “neighborhood” is only five houses, and only one gives out candy. We considered driving out to a different neighborhood about 15 minutes away, because they have sidewalks. None of the neighborhoods around here do, and with the amount of people that DRIVE their kids door to door (don’t even get me started on that one) it just gets downright dangerous.

    I think if you have a valid reason for doing it, it’s fine. Otherwise, go home, you’re ruining it for the rest of us.

    My dad blogged the other day about how there is low income housing near his neighborhood, and his neighbors get all upset because those kids come to them to trick or treat, most of them without costumes because they can’t afford it. My dad is the opposite, the more the merrier, costume or not. He just loves the holiday, and getting to be a good guy handing out free candy to kids. Wish there were more people like him.

  4. Xtian

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Xtian

    A, you know I love you. I’m also pretty sure I know the place of which you speak.

    Here’s my $0.02: I grew up in a pretty affluent suburb and spent Halloweens trick-or-treating my own neighborhood first, then meeting up with some good friends of our family and trick-or-treating their neighborhood as well, so migrating around neighborhoods on this holiday doesn’t seem in any way unusual to me.

    Further, in regards to this specific neighborhood, when my family lived in the area, as you know, we lived in a very nice loft in a sometimes sketchy part of town that was(is probably still) very much a work of gentrification in progress.

    Sadly, there didn’t seem to be too many places around us we could count on taking our boys trick-or-treating that handed out candy; the other folks living in nice diggs like ours around us weren’t families with children; they were young professionals who were not at home passing out candy on Halloween.

    In fact, the first year we lived there, I remained home to pass out candy and got only ONE visitor. This left N & I feeling like we had no choice but to trek over to this other not-very-far-away-from-us neighborhood I think you speak of and gather candy there.

    I know, such is the plight of living in certain metropolitan neighborhoods versus suburbs, but that was our lot then and I never felt any qualms at all about migrating to a place I could count on to be safe, peopled by families with children of their own, and to have their porch lights on.

    Maybe I should have thought this through, but even in retrospect I don’t think I would have made a different decision. It wouldn’t have felt the same to just buy each of the boys a big bag of candy each and deny them the Halloween experience, and it just so happens N & I prefer living in the city versus the ‘burbs.

    Sadly, we’ve finally accepted with our recent move to California that’s exactly where we have to live these days, and are quietly waiting out our ‘sentence’ in an affluent suburb of our own, handing out plenty of full-size candy bars to other people’s children. I never even think to ask these children who ring my bell each October where they come from, nor do I personally have any qualms about the amount of money we spend on Halloween candy each year.

    Ultimately, I see it as a service I’m performing: Someone did these things for me when I was growing up, and now it’s my turn to do my best to give today’s trick-or-treaters the best Halloween experience I can manage. Hopefully, pleasant memories of fun and great candy and frivolity will stick with them, and that will motivate them to do their best when the holiday becomes their responsibility.

  6. Mary Lynn

    This was our first year going to a different neighbourhood because for the first time we decided to walk around with other friends. I must say it was a nice change to be in a neighbourhood where people really get into Halloween. In our neighbourhood, maybe every 5th house has its lights on, but in the other neighbourhood at least every other house was giving out candy and had lots of decorations.

    That said, my husband stayed home to hand out candy to whatever unfortunate children happened to be trick-or-treating on our quiet street. We didn’t want them to have yet another house not handing out anything.

    When I was a kid I lived in a rural area outside town, so driving around on Halloween was the norm. There really weren’t any houses I could walk to.

    Also, Meghann’s dad sounds awesome.

  7. Marin (AntiM)

    I don’t think a single kid who rings my doorbell is from anywhere near my house. Every year, a parade of cars drives sloooooowly down the street, dropping kids off on the west end and picking them up on the right. I find it a little odd, mostly because I lived in the suburbs as a kid and we’d never have dreamed of leaving the candy-friendly and population dense hunting ground. All that said, I don’t mind… I only had 17 trick or treaters this year, and I don’t think I’ve ever had more than 40, so clearly my block doesn’t really have its own trick or treater base.

  8. MPPs Mom

    After walking through my own neighborhood this year with my kids and having only about 30% of the homes open their doors, I’m highly considering going to another neighborhood. My kids were so bummed that no one was participating that I want to find a fun area for them to Trick or Treat next year, even if it’s not with our neighbors.

    We aren’t going for better or more goods….just any goods….so the kids have a good experience and have fun memories.

  9. Anonymous

    I don’t find it rude at all, really. We live in a very middle-class neighborhood, and people from the areas near us that have lots of apartments come to us to trick-or-treat. Apartment neighborhoods (which do tend to be lower income areas) don’t hand out candy. If a kid is dressed up, I’m handing out candy. I get as much joy in that as I did when I was a kid. Bring ’em in!


  10. Anonymous

    People should stay in their own hood!!!

  11. Everyfann

    I think it’s fine – everyone should go out and have fun! It’s all about the candy and kids, right???

  12. Heather S.

    Our neighborhood is still under construction, so there are few houses to actually go to. We’ve opted to go to a friends neighborhood the last few years. That way the kids can be together and we all have fun. Once our neighborhood is complete things will be different and we can return the favor.

    I certainly wouldn’t drive to some neighborhood for “better goods”, that’s not the point. The kids don’t care, they just want people to see their cool costumes and then see what kinds of goodies they have when they get home.

    It’s about the memories you create doing it, not who has the better loot. =)

  13. mayberry

    Our neighborhood is definitely a destination. All evening cars pull in and unload tons of kids. I don’t mind the kids, although I do question parents pushing babies around (ONLY babies, not little sibs) and holding out a bag to collect candy “for the baby.” I seriously think that is worse than uncostumed teens. But we give to anyone who comes to our door, to the tune of 10-12 bags of candy a year.

    I do worry, though, about having so many cars cruising around when there are also large groups of kids walking and trying to cross streets. That’s a little scary and not in a Yay, Halloween! way.

  14. Anonymous

    I love how you turned candy into political war. 😉 – m

  15. jeanette

    I have been following your blog for a while, although I don’t comment really. I do, however, get riled up about this particular topic. As someone who lives, in Denver, in one of those “destination” neighborhoods, I hear this discussion every year. There are certainly times I feel like there are people who would cheerfully built a fence with a gate and a lock to keep the “others” from getting in and Halloween is one of those times. I would estimate the people who come down my street Halloween night are probably 70 percent neighborhood people, although from the hue and cry you would think we were being invaded by snarling Mongol hordes (apologies to Drago).

    For myself, I enjoy having ANYONE come to my house to TOT (Unless you don’t have a costume. Then you’re a jerk). It’s CANDY. If I live in a neighborhood that is safer, better lit, and (generally) more well off I don’t think it’s unreasonable for other people to cross a couple of streets to enjoy it. I buy a shit ton of candy every year and every year every piece of it is gone. When it’s gone, I turn off the lights and we’re done for another year.

    I find it sad that people can be so mean-spirited about something so innocuous. I don’t really see how anyone is being hurt by “destination” trick or treating.

  16. Jennifer Doyle

    I think it’s fine for people to find a good place to trick or treat, in the sense that some neighborhoods have more houses that participate, may be safer, etc. It’s also more fun to TOT with lots of kids running around.

    Our neighborhood is pretty lame. We stayed in our neighborhood, my husband took the kids out and only saw one other kid out TOTing. I had four kids come to the door. Would have loved to have run out of candy and have to turn out the light!

  17. Nicholas Crawford

    We are destination trick or treaters and target the wealthiest communities. Because we’re smart.

  18. Sarah

    I mostly grew up in the country. For the brief time that I lived in the city, our neighborhood was too sketchy for trick or treating. When we lived in the country, we were about 2 hours from my grandparents house, so we mostly went there for Halloween. It was mostly a retirement area, so there were lots of grandkids around and plenty of grandma’s & grandpa’s handing out the good stuff–some of it homemade. It was awesome.

  19. chloebear

    Xtian you rock!

  20. SarahK

    So, I have been thinking a lot about this since Monday. I am all for going out of your neighborhood if you have a good reason. Xtian for example. His son went to
    school in the neighborhood her trick or treated in. Also he lived on the rim of downtown where there was really no place to trick or treat. What made me uncomfortable on Monday was the amount of “car” trick or treaters came to my house. Now I don’t know if they didn’t live IN my neighborhood per se or were just terribly lazy. However, there is a disconnect for me when a group of kids come to the door after piling out of a mini-van. It seems excessive. And to combat that they got tootsie pops. If you walked up to my door you got full sized candy bars.

  21. Rachael

    We always drove to other neighborhoods (and do now) because the neighborhoods we live in have been far out of town and not really had sidewalks or streetlights, and many of the neighborhoods we have lived in had really widely spaced houses. If I lived in a regular neighborhood where people went trick or treating, I would stay there unless we were going to go with friends.

  22. Suzanne

    I live in a small cul-de-sac type neighborhood of 50 houses. We’ve been here for four Halloweens.

    The first two years, there were lots of kids that I did not recognize, because you get to know the kids when there are only 20-30 kids. I kind of liked the idea that we were considered a nice area for kids to come trick or treat.

    The past two, though, I’ve bought candy for the droves of kids I used to see-and have had less than a dozen.

    Personally, I’d rather see those kids come to one neighborhood with one way in and out, spend their hour walking our houses and getting good treats than walking along a heavily trafficked road for a few treats in that same amount of time.

    It’s a pay it forward type of thing to me. My youth was spent traveling a large neighborhood and receiving many treats. My kids now are of the age where they’d rather stay home, so now, it is our turn to ooh and ahh over the little ones in costumes and place some chocolate in their treat bags.

  23. Sara

    As someone whose neighborhood is inundated with non-residents at Halloween, I have a different take on this.

    If you’re going to the other neighborhood b/c they have better candy then that’s rude. In your case, though, you’re going so you and your family can hang out with good friends. Do your friends want to come to your neighborhood? Maybe not.

    But here’s the thing, a few bags of candy is about 10-bucks. I know you can afford to buy your son whatever candy he wants, so really is this more for the hanging out with friends than it is about the candy?

    We have 2 buckets for our candy, as do many of our neighbors – one for the neighborhood kids and another for the 200+ kids & parents (yes, the parents will expect candy too) who live wherever they do but feel that trick-or-treating in my neighborhood is the place to be.

    When all is said and done, is the candy really all that great? It’s just candy and it costs $0.50 for a full size at the grocery store. It’s not like you’re getting Jacques Torres truffles. And if you are, tell me where you go and I’m so there next year!

  24. Anonymous

    We go to our friends or relatives neighborhood, simply beause our neighborhood does not celebrate Halloween. We had a whoopong 8 children here, increasing by 50% from last. It is so sad, but all our neughbors go to a church for family fun night, go to bed by 6:30 PM, or are out in another neighborhood with their own children. I wish we needed to spend hundreds of dollars on candy, like we did when I was growing up. I think we have a no fun policy in our deed restricted community.

  25. Amy Jo

    We also live in a “destination” neighborhood. In most cases, I don’t mind having lots of trick or treaters. Because we live right on the edge town, just beyond us is a large rural area, so lots of kids from there come to our area. However, last year our neighborhood’s trick-or-treating was held on a different day than our town’s trick-or-treating, and we got almost double the kids. That was a little annoying, because you know there were people who brought their kids out who had already gone the night before. We ran out of candy and we had about 10 mega sized bags.


    I live in a neighborhood that is not really a destination spot but it is sandwiched between two lower incomce apartment complexes. Those families come int our neighborhood because it is safe and welcoming. I like the fact that we are safe and will gladly hand out the candy.

  27. FireMom

    We do this because our neighborhood is not safe. We go trick-or-treating with a friend and his daughter. It’s safe, the kids have a blast together and we all get to sit by the fire afterward. We wouldn’t go to that particular neighborhood if our friend didn’t live there — but we’d have to go somewhere else in order to trick-or-treat.

    I come from a rural area, though, and we had to trick-or-treat by vehicle. So I’m not opposed to the idea of moving around, obviously.

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