Growing up in my neighborhood, Halloween was fun. But I have just as many memories of the two hours prior to going door-to-door on Trick-or-Treat.
Each year, the neighbor a couple of streets over hosted a Beggar’s Night pre-party.
This woman was one of my favorite neighbors. She was the kind of person who always asked how you were, and really, truly wanted to hear your answer. She remembered what you told her and followed up. She was one of those people who simply cared for others and made you feel special.
Each year, families would flock to her house. It was the perfect place for a party full of kids, on a quiet cul-de-sac. Kids of all ages would be running around the grass and street, dressed in costumes. Play equipment and games were in the front yard and driveway.
Decorations were spooky but kid-friendly. There was even an outdoor photo booth set up. The food was your typical hot dogs and chips, but with Halloween-themed names. There was spooky music playing, too, of course.
My family and I would walk over each year. It was so much fun to see so many people gathered, with all the kids in their costumes. When I think of the twins I used to babysit (they’re in high school now!), I still remember the adorable ladybug costumes from their first Halloween. The year prior, their mom was pregnant and on bed rest, but used a wheelchair to come to the party.
As I looked back fondly on these parties, I wondered if others in the neighborhood felt the same. I reached out to several people and found that everyone couldn’t wait to tell me about their memories of the party.
Everyone referenced the costumes, the food and the music.
They mentioned the neighbor who hosted, and how she went all out every year. People talked about sitting around the “community candy table” as they got older, handing out treats to kids. Other memories included making s’mores around the fire and kids trying to make their own haunted house.
Sadly, the woman who hosted the party died a few years ago. But every fall, when Halloween decorations start to pop up, and especially during the time before Trick-or-Treat, I think of her. I hope she knows how many people have such fond memories of her parties.
I now live in the same neighborhood where I grew up. I would love to continue the tradition of having a neighborhood gathering before kids take over streets in search of candy. I’m not sure they will ever be quite as amazing as my neighbor’s parties, but I hope someday, kids will have good memories of my parties, too.