The time has come for the second* most important question of October: will I get trick-or-treaters at my house?
This is a sticky issue. Guessing wrong has potentially damaging ramifications: overbuy on treats and you end up with a dangerous indulgence situation for at least a month. Underbuy and you’ll find yourself crouching behind the couch with the lights off while droves of sugar-drunk hooligans stomp up and down your front steps.
As a neighborhood, Wallingford does well for trick-or-treaters. Tripsavvy lists us first in their “Best Neighborhoods for Trick or Treating” article, and in past years we’ve done well in Zillow’s Trick or Treat index. (This year, we don’t appear to make their Top 5, but it’s worth noting that their index is built from a set of variables such as “Single Family Home Density” but not “Likelihood of Receiving Peanut Butter Cup”.) But whatever the indexes say, I can attest that cars from other neighborhoods drop their kids off in ours.
I can also attest that, based on the experience of my 25 Halloweens in this neighborhood, seven of them with a child of trick-or-treat age, there is enormous variability within the neighborhood. On my street (4th Ave NE below 42nd), we’re lucky to see five or six groups throughout the night. Go west just a few blocks and you’re standing in line behind other groups to get your chance at a Kit-Kat bar.
This is due to a number of factors, but suffice to say that the problem of optimizing the walking path for maximum number of houses visited in the time available, coupled with greatest chance of high-quality candy, has been the subject of years of intense analysis by the best developing minds our neighborhood has to offer. The outer edges of the neighborhood and side streets will tend to get less traffic. Thick rows of affluent single-family homes are more likely locales for those magic words: “take a handful”.
So, if you really want to know what to expect, ask your immediate neighbors (and please let me know your location and experience in the comments.)
While we’re on the topic, two other thoughts:
For whatever reason, an increasing number of kids these days aren’t able to enjoy the treats we got used to when we were growing up, either due to food or dye sensitivities or their parents growing awareness that sugar is worse for you than we thought (and we never thought it was particularly good for you to begin with.)
In reaction, an increasing number of houses are offering up Halloween “treats” that are allergy friendly, either because they’re gluten/nut/dairy/etc-free, or they’re just not food (crayons, super balls, bubbles, etc.) If you’re out looking for such a house, keep an eye out for a teal pumpkin.
My son falls into the above category, but he still loves to go trick-or-treating. It’s a downer to walk up to house after house and collect a bunch of candy he just ends up throwing away, though, so we’ve developed a few strategies.
For a while, he’d collect candy from a few houses, then start giving them to people who opened the doors at the next houses. We called it reverse trick-or-treating.
Then, the last few years, we decided to just skip the houses altogether, and go straight for the people in the streets: we pull around a wagon with a game and a bag of superballs on it, intercepting groups of trick-or-treaters for some fun. (Also, I bring a fifth of whiskey and paper shot glasses for the exhausted parents.)
Of course, there are lots of folks in the neighborhood who go way beyond plastic bats and bowls of candy: I’ve seen haunted houses, day-glo dungeons and mini-dance parties. If you’re planning any of the above, please let me know. I’ll make sure you’re on my route.
* The most important question is “what costume will I wear?”