A New England Halloween

Halloween came and went and the kids managed to make the most of it even though the lack of neighborhoods, sidewalks, and street lamps prevented neighborly trick or treating. We put them in the car and drove the mile or so to the center of town to enjoy organized trick or treating on sidewalks that spread out from the rotary like spokes, but only for a few hundred feet or so in each direction.

An affluently rural New England Halloween is a sight to behold I learned this year. Parents and children happily milled about with bobbing flashlights and headlamps further emphasizing the town’s lack of nighttime lighting. The general store was aglow with blazing pumpkins lined up for viewing and decorated with giant inflatable spiders on its front porch eaves. A large barrel of candy sat unattended on the porch letting kids help themselves, refreshed immediately when the supply was exhausted. A lone policeman stood in front of the small police station glowing with blue lights and passed out glow sticks.

The beautiful and historic downtown homes were that much more breathtaking by moonlight. Festooned with glowing pumpkins, candles, and decorative floating and ethereal ghosts, their 18th and 19th century architecture provided delightful combinations of both a Martha Stewart Halloween magazine cover and Hawthorne’s House of Seven Gables. Happy, greedy children pushed their way down the narrow gravel topped paths lining the street, visiting the same homes over and over while filling their bags and pumpkins with chocolate. Well-heeled homeowners sipped wine and chatted with friends and neighbors, clearly enamored by their own charm.

Our kids braved the throng of sugar hungry peers as they trudged from house to house shyly whispering “trick or treat” and hesitantly pushing forward their plastic pumpkins waiting for a treat. “Take two or three,” homeowners instructed, smiling. My oldest, a Halloween veteran of six years, knew this was a different beast of a holiday from years past as she looked back to me, questioning what her ears were telling her. Still other homes, while attending to the candy cravings of hundreds of other rural kids, passed out full size premium candy bars from large earthenware bowls.


“Who are these people and where did they come from?” I heard myself thinking as I took it all in and mentally began planning the Halloween decorations for my future fantasy house.

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