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The headcount

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When it comes to trick or treat, just about everyone who hasn't absurdly demonized Halloween considers himself an ace trend-spotter/holiday analyst.

Chances are you will be reminded of this Tuesday morning, when you'll hear acquaintances report this year's numbers.

Of course, the basic themes have been apparent for years: A few neighborhoods still see lots of trick-or-treaters. Others get zero action. And many fall somewhere in between.

But not everyone weighing in on Halloween trends relies entirely on sweeping extrapolations based on scant statistical evidence. No, some people keep a precise tally of the kids coming to their front doors. And quite a few families have been doing so for many years.

Some simply conduct an overall headcount. Others also try to keep track of costume categories.

A few candy-dispensers make notes about the weather. And some can look back on their annual counts and tell you how a Wednesday Halloween turnout has typically differed from trick-or-treat volume on Saturday nights.

You can't blame them for feeling a tad superior, these folks who conduct a Halloween census. After all, they know what they're talking about.

Others might say something vague and imprecise like “I think we had a few more last year.”

Which gives the headcount people an opening to pipe up with “Well, we had 51 kids Monday night — down from 74 in 2010 and 68 in 2009, but nowhere near our 1969 high of 201…of course Halloween fell on a Friday that year.”


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Features writer Paul Turner is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review in the Features department. He writes "The Slice" column, which appears six times a week and produces general features stories for the Today section.

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