Halloween: A time to have fun and draw on imagination

Lynda Hollenbeck

Remember the time when Halloween got a bad name? Religious right groups and various others protested the holiday as evil, and trick-or-treating for a lot of youngsters was verboten.
Witch costumes in particular were viewed as symbols of demonic worship.
Even when it wasn't a popular position to take, I argued in favor of the celebration and said folks needed to lighten up and let the kids enjoy a harmless activity.
There's nothing any cuter than a little girl all donned out in witch's garb, particularly the classic pointed hat.
Some didn't like what I said, but I saw the holiday as an opportunity for kids to use their imagination in becoming characters different from themselves.
Thankfully, the anti-Halloween period appears to have passed. And if anyone doubts this is so, all they had to do was make a couple of stopovers in the Benton area during the last few days.
Spook City on Monday night brought out thousands of people, a goodly number of them children, most of whom were dressed in some fashion other than their ordinary clothes.
That's a big part of the event. The fun of playing "let's pretend." (And I'm old enough to remember a radio broadcast of that title ... )
Kids love to "play like" they're Spider Man or the folks they've seen on Duck Dynasty or Cinderella or a princess or a firefighter — a myriad of characters that they take on for a few hours. Even if it's just taking an old sheet to become a ghost for a little while, it can be fun.
In addition to the costume factor, there's trick-or-treating. I know this activity is alive and well because at least half of the Benton delegations showed up at my house Halloween night. And that's OK with me.
I enjoy playing host to the trick-or-treaters. Most of them were having a wonderful time, laughing and running to the door with sack or bucket or some other container in hand.
Perhaps the teenagers and young adults carrying pillowcases for a handout were a bit much, but I won't fault them either. How do I know what their lives are like on an ordinary day ... Everyone should get the chance to pig out on sweets once in a while.
If I were to succumb to the temptation, I would suffer, but others may fare better.
Fortunately, I had stocked up on candy days ahead of the big night. It may not be the most nutritious treat, but it's just for one night.
One of the most charming groups that came to my door was a family that lives on the other end of the block. This includes a little boy who's probably around 3 and his parents.
The child was dressed as a city beat cop (policeman's blue coat, hat, badge, billyclub and all) and had two prisoners in tow — his mom and dad dressed in traditional black and white stripes.
I asked if he was keeping them in line, and he beamed as he nodded his head and said "Yes!"
There's no way he could have been cuter. His smile caused me to dig deeper into the candy dish.
As a child I loved picking out my costume for Halloween, and it's something I've never quite outgrown. Guess it goes along with a love for theater and performing.
When I was a youngster, my mother would order my costumes from the Sears & Roebuck catalog. I remember the year I set my sights on portraying a pirate. Only the description under the illustration described it as "bold pirate."
Whenever anyone asked what I planned to be on Halloween, I'd say, "I'm gonna be a BOLD pirate."
My older cousin, Paula, always at the ready to correct my grammar or anything else about me she deemed out of order, would interject, "You mean you're going to be a pirate! Just a pirate!"
"No!" I'd argue. "I'm gonna be a BOLD PIRATE!"
There's no changing the mind of some kids, and I was one of those.
Through the years Hollenbeck House has been a popular spot for trick-or-treaters. I've seen generations evolve among the kids at the door. Parents who used to come as trick-or-treaters themselves now are bringing their children. It's nice to see.
Probably my favorite trick-or-treater ever was the little boy who was attired in full monk's regalia.
When I saw him standing in the doorway all alone, I squealed and said, "Oh, my! There's a monk at my door!"
Obviously miffed, he quickly admonished me. "I am not a monk! I'm Friar Tuck!"
With apologies to the friar, I gave him a double portion of treats.
May the joy of Halloween go on forever.

Lynda Hollenbeck is senior editor of The Saline Courier.