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Late returns

Bonnie Rae had 48 trick-or-treaters at her place on Halloween, which represents an increase.

Her headcount had dipped down into the 20s in recent years.

On the other hand, Janet Culbertson had 25 kids on Friday night. That's her lowest total ever.

But Bill Mahaney counted 58, his highest headcount in years.

One more Halloween story

The doorbell rang and a Spokane guy named Roger hurried downstairs to dispense candy.

He had a mouth full of cookie.

When Roger opened the door, he looked down and saw a tiny scarecrow.

The scarecrow looked up and saw that the man's mouth was full of something.

In a shocked tone, the little boy asked, "Are you eating my trick or treat?"

Roger assured the scarecrow that he was not. And to thank the kid for the laugh, he gave him a grande serving of candy.

A CdA Halloween princess with attitude

Coeur d'Alene's Maggie Bennett shared a story.

"For the last 25 years, we have decorated our porch on Halloween with a Scary Guy made from an ugly mask and various clothing stuffed with newspaper. He sits on a bench with pumpkins, a spider and webs.

"This year a 5-year-old princess with blond ringlets came up on the porch with parents and siblings to trick-or-treat. I asked her how she liked my Scary Guy.

"With her arms folded over her chest, she said, 'I don't like him at all and I think you are mean!'"

The child's parents lurched into damage-control mode. And perhaps the fact that her bag of treats was already pretty full empowered the princess to speak freely.

But Bennett was impressed.

"At least she came up on the porch to tell me what she thought. Some kids just walk away rather than take the chance that Scary Guy will get them."

Hasn’t had a trick-or-treater in 15 years

That's Howard Bisbee's report.

He lives in a log home a few miles outside of Republic, at the end of a dead-end road.

"If I buy Halloween candy, I know we're going to eat it."

One trick-or-treater requested wine

But Karla Sherry knows the woman in question and was prepared when she arrived with an empty glass.

"I actually had seven bottles for her to choose from, in reds and whites," wrote Sherry. "She chose a 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon from Columbia Winery."

Halloween in Logan neighborhood

Maggie Fritz had 25 trick-or-treaters at her place.

Two girls came as Care Bears, in excellent homemade outfits. They were impressed that Fritz recognized their costumes.

Another kid, a boy, was made up to look like a member of KISS. He, too, was slightly amazed that Fritz could identify his costume theme.

"I pointed out my gray hair," she said.

Halloween report from a friend

My friend John Kafentzis shared a Halloween 2013 headcount and a lasting memory.

"The results are in and we had 81 trick-or-treaters this year, not a record but not bad in a nation where parents are crazy with fear over the dangers their children face even though there is no statistical data that shows kids are in any more peril now than they were 50 years ago.

"This year was no record. When my kids were in their trick-or-treating prime we routinely toted more than 100.

"I always tally like my father did before me. Not that he, or me, ever remember the number the next year.

"Except once in the early '60s we had 221 trick-or-treaters visit our suburban Missoula home.

"I don't think it ever occurred to my dad to close the blinds and turn off the porch light. A child of the Depression and a World War II vet, he liked to finish what he started and he was a skillful adapter.

"That night adapting meant conscripting the goodies my sister and I had collected. My dad was always big on everyone pitching in.

"At least he let us choose what to give up. It was no big deal to sacrifice the fruit, popcorn balls and assortment of cheap suckers.

""When we got down to the Milky Ways and Hersheys it was painful.

"They came in waves, cowboys and Indians, pirates and princesses and witches and hobos.

"There were times when he didn't close the door between groups.

"Then, it stopped. After 30 minutes of no trick-or-treaters my dad called it. It was way past 9. He had served every trick-or-treater who climbed our steps. My sister and I still had a few treats.

"He always remembered the year we had 221.

"We all did."

It’s trick-or-treat time…

It's trick-or-treat time, and among those handing out the treats are Gov. Butch Otter and First Lady Lori Otter, who, dressed in real firefighter outfits, are dispensing candy, books and toothbrushes to costumed kids on the Statehouse steps. Otter recalled visiting Idaho firefighters on the fire lines during this year's tough wildfire season. "Those guys did such a great job, they worked so hard, spent a lot of time away from their families," he said. "We thought, 'Let's honor them.'" Then, looking around, he added, "I hope they think this is honoring them, and not just, 'Who's that idiot with the Pulaski?'"

The Statehouse trick-or-treat runs until 6:30 p.m.; meanwhile, things are gearing up on Boise's Harrison Boulevard, which is Halloween Central in this town, from the elaborate decorations to the throngs of young trick-or-treaters. There are lots and lots and lots of jack-o-lanterns…

Halloween headcount

Jan Goss said her husband has been keeping meticulous records on the trick-or-treat turnout at their house since the 1970s.

He notes the weather, size of the groups, et cetera.

And he tracks trends.

"In the last few years he has been graphing it."

Greeting trick or treaters (a few do’s and don’ts)

Do: Say "Hey, are you Frankenweenie?"

Don't: Say "What the hell are you supposed to be?"

Do: Smile. The temptation to try to be scary is understandable. But it's not always a great idea.

Don't: Require kids to pass a political litmus test.

Do: Praise children carrying lights or adorned with reflective strips.

Don't: Offer kids beer.

Do: Wave to parents lurking in the background.

Don't: Knock any little ones off your porch when opening the storm door.

Do: Praise costumes.

Don't: Launch a long story about how you once went as the Lone Ranger.

Do: Have dog treats ready to dispense to canine companions. (The wisdom of trick-or-treating with dogs that might get spooked is another matter.)

Don't: Dispense marijuana.

Do: Reward kids who say "Thank you" with a bonus Snickers.   

Meat snacks for trick or treaters?

Well, that would be one way to stick your thumb in the eye of Commie vegetarian families.

Or would it?

Is there really any animal tissue in treats of that ilk or is the jerky family of fine foods actually 100% preservatives?


“Doubles for the homeless”

A Logan neigborhood reader who always calls and reports her Halloween headcount left me a phone message.

She had 50 trick-or-treaters last night, up slightly from the last few years but nothing like the costumed tsunamis of the '70s.

The kids were well-behaved and all. And she had enjoyed the night.

Except for one incident.

At one point, three kids in costumes approached the porch and one of them started to chant "Doubles for the homeless!"

Another explained that they were homeless and that other candy dispensers had been kind enough to double their allotments.

Meantime, two adults my caller assumed to be their parents stood back and looked on without comment.

My caller didn't say what she decided about how much candy to give them. But apparently she didn't care for the social guilt-trip extortion.

"It left a bad taste," she said.   

Halloween in 1955

How is this kid able to make his trick-or-treat bag remain suspended in mid-air? Or is it supposed to be falling?


Dress code

You are no longer required to wear high heels when handing out Halloween candy.


Calming the “What if?” people

There are, in our midst, individuals who have active imaginations when it comes to preparing for trick or treaters.

Even after bags of candy have been purchased — way more than you'll need,  these folks worry.

"What if we have a late rush?"

You can try to reason with these people. You can attempt to calm them with assurances that everything will be fine.

But still they fret.

"What if we get more kids than ever?"

Reminding them that you are already well prepared for that unlikely event won't calm them. All you can do is buy more candy at the eleventh hour.

Then maybe the "What if?" people can relax.

And there will be even more Snickers miniatures to dump at your workplace on Tuesday.

The headcount


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."

In the sweet buy and buy


Now, of course, we have entered the period when temptation will be at its peak.

With just over a week to go before Halloween, it's now plausible that the candy you're buying could be intended for trick or treaters.

No one would have believed that a few weeks ago. But now, well maybe you really are serious.

But the home stretch can be the toughest time when it comes to keeping your mitts off the junk-food snacks. The key, though, is pretty simple.

Just do not allow yourself to utter the following words: "I'd better check to make sure they're OK." 

White House Treats Baker Family

You probably met some pretty adorable ghosts and goblins on Halloween but one North Idaho family got the rare opportunity to trick or treat at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. 10-year-old Vernon Pawlik, the step-grandson of WWII Medal of Honor recipient Vernon Baker, was invited to the White House’s annual Halloween party as sort of an apology for a gaffe early this summer. Pawlik was in Washington, DC with his mom and grandmother when his Vernon Baker was buried at Arlington Cemetery. During a visit to the White House after the ceremony they were turned away from a tour because Pawlik was not dress appropriately/Kalae Chock, KXLY. More here.

Question: Do you agree with me that this is a nice gesture to make up for the White House gaffe that occurred earlier this fall when Vernon Baker’s family visited?