Halloween tailgate

Halloween tailgate

We are approaching a Halloween transition.

Our kids are tweens-plus — the oldest doesn’t trick-or-treat anymore, and our daughter will probably go with friends this year.

My sweet girl, who has in past years been a fairy and a princess and a ballerina, is thinking of going as a criminal. Another proud parenting moment.

We’re at the end of the era where I could shepherd them door to door, through rain and cold and dark of night, and swipe some of the candy out of their pumpkin buckets.

Truth is, I like Halloween as much as they do. Maybe more. And this year, I may be relegated to handing out candy at our house.

I’ve always given that job to my husband so I could go see all the kids running around the neighborhood in their costumes, and stop to chat with friends. It’s like a giant block party. With masks.

So we’re trying to invent some new Halloween traditions, like our church’s annual trunk-or-treat.

These events, where kids go car to car to get treats in a parking lot, appeal to parents who have safety concerns about kids visiting unfamiliar houses, or those in rural areas where trick-or-treating is a challenge, or those who have religious objections to scary Halloween themes.

We just like the candy.

Actually, it’s a fun way for our kids to stay involved as they get older.

We decided at the last minute to take part a year ago. We had no idea what we were getting into.

We innocently decorated the back of our van with pumpkins and ghosts and bought a couple of bags of candy. Then we saw the competition.

One enterprising family chose a beach theme, complete with sand and water. A scientist brought a bubbling cauldron where kids could do an experiment. Another set up a mini-golf course, which attracted a huge line — including some kids.


We were also unprepared for the hordes of children who showed up. As our supply ran low, I volunteered to get more — then realized I couldn’t take the car because it was the star of our show (lame as it was).

The only store close enough for me to run to and back in time with the sugar reinforcements was a gas station.

The choices were slim: We needed lots of bang for the buck, not individual full-size candy bars. We ended up getting Airheads (cheap) and some bags of hard candy.

This did not improve our standing with the trick-or-treaters. My son invented a game to keep them coming back.

This year, we were prepared. My daughter started planning our theme weeks ago. You will be shocked to learn that it involved sports.

She decided to attach the basketball hoop that hangs on her bedroom door (yes, our home is elegant) to the top of the van door, but it was too unstable.

We ended up hanging it from the rubber lip around the trunk opening, anchored by a bamboo pole and clamped in place by our battery-charger cables. We figured it added to the Frankenstein factor.

We drew a basketball court (of sorts) in the parking lot with chalk. We threw in a bag-toss game, a few Blog Photoathletic pennants, Halloween decorations and some fake spider webs and — voila! — we had our “Hallympics,” as my daughter christened it.

It wasn’t extravagant, but this year, we were a hit with the trunk-or-treaters. All kids love to throw things. AND we did not run out of candy.

I figured we could use the leftovers for the official trick-or-treaters this Friday. But my husband, who apparently has a stash of money somewhere I don’t know about, is arguing for full-size candy bars. He says we need to build our Halloween street cred.

That should keep the trick-or-treaters coming back long after our kids go to college.


Julie Wurth blogs about kids and families and covers the University of Illinois for the News-Gazette. Leave a comment below, or contact her (217) 351-5226, jwurth@news-gazette.com or Twitter.com/jawurth.

Sections (1):Living
Topics (1):People


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