Okay folks, Halloween 2018 is over, let’s discuss what went well this year and what didn’t.
First off: costumes. Our team really outdid itself, not just in quality but also in quantity.
Zaza set the pace early be managing to convince us to buy him not one, but two store-bought costumes at Cosco.
Showing excellent mastery of playing parents off one another, we came home with both a ninja outfit and a swat team outfit. Then, when his school sent home a note requesting that students only show up on Halloween dressed as animals, last year’s bat costume was brought back into service. Actually, it never left service, since it continues to be his favorite outer layer of clothing.
So, well done, Zaza, with three costumes. On the big night, he finally settled on the ninja, possibly because of the accompanying sword.
Roxanne was not going to let her brother outdo her, however.
I thought that since she is still only two years old, I could still decide on her behalf. And what I picked out for her was a pair of fairy wings and one of her cute dresses. But when it came time for Roxanne to go to her first Halloween party, it was Nathi, our au pair, who was there to get her dressed. Nathi made her a very adorable witch, with a little headband and last year’s Christmas dress. Social butterfly Roxie got to wear this gear to not one, but two Halloween parties.
Then, on the big day, Roxie was once again outfitted by Nathi in the witch costume. But as soon as she got a chance, she was right out of the dress. Instead, she wanted to wear the ninja costume. This necessitated some negotiations with big brother, who rather grudgingly put on his swat team outfit. But no, after just 5 minutes, Roxie was done with the ninja costume as well, and that came off.
I tried my best to get her into the fairy dress, but she was having none of it. She wanted just the wings.
“It’s cold out, you’ll need a jacket too,” I told her, pulling jackets out of the closet.
Roxie, proving that a sense of style is something you’re born with rather than learn, selected a sparkly moto jacket, a pair of sunglasses, flashy sneakers and a sword to go along with the fairy wings. Voila! Biker fairy!
Costumes were the high point of the evening, though.
We headed out at dusk to hit up our neighbors for candy. There were several houses on the street that had put out Halloween decorations, which I have always assumed to be a signal that they are participating in the trick or treating rituals.
But no. House after house was silent.
It wasn’t just houses that were quiet, the streets were empty of children as well. I am used to see clusters of little vampires and Spidermen trooping along together all over the place on Halloween. But we were the only ones out in our section of town, it seemed.
The neighbors that we did meet confirmed this.
“You’re only the third set of kids I’ve seen tonight!” one woman exclaimed, sitting in a lawn chair in her open garage with a jack-o-lantern and a bowl of candy. Her house is on one of the major through-streets. What gives? I thought.
It’s not like San Francisco is anti-Halloween. This is a city that dresses up for just about any excuse it can think of – Bay-to-Breakers, Day of the Dead, Gay Pride, St. Patrick’s Day, Folsom Street Fair, etc.
The problem is, San Francisco has neighborhoods that sort of specialize in Halloween. For example, there is a three-block section of a street in the Mission (actually in Baja Noe, for those in the know) that blocks itself off to traffic and goes nuts with Halloween decorations. It is a zoo of little kids. There’s also the shopping district in Noe Valley, where the stores stay open late and give out candy.
I suspect this is what makes Halloween fun poorly distributed across the city. This draws off the kids from the other neighborhoods, giving the residents in those neighborhoods less incentive to make themselves available for tricker treaters. Fewer houses giving out candy means kids will go to other neighborhoods where the action is better. Vicious cycle, it looks to me.
Personally, I am not in favor of bussing my kids to another neighborhood to go trick-or-treating. And I’m not just talking about the insane parking nightmares involved.
You lose something really special in this process – that of getting to meet your neighbors and show off to them how adorably creative your kids are.
Last night, I met Margaret, a neighbor who has lived in this neighborhood since her little ones were my age, and they’re now in their forties. I walk past her house every day on my way to work. Now I know who lives there, and I feel a little better connected to her and to my neighborhood.
So, next year, I’m going to go on a campaign on NextDoor to try and see if I can rally my neighbors into bringing back the true spirit of Halloween. If I have to go door to door myself and give them the candy to give to my kids, I will do it. Same thing with the other families on our street. I know that there are at least half a dozen of us in the same age range.
Who knows, maybe Miraloma Park will become the next hot destination for Halloween in the city?