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Celebrating Halloween in November

November has arrived in rather frigid fashion and now it’s time for … trick or treat?

Throughout much of the past week, social media and area streets and businesses were filled with people having heated debates over whether to “cancel Halloween” and reschedule trick or treat due to predicted harsh whether conditions on Thursday, Oct. 31. Many felt that little children should not be exposed to the cold, wind and rain that were expected to arrive on the actual holiday. Others believed that the festivities should go ahead on the correct date, with the weather simply adding to the dreary, spooky atmosphere that traditionally defines the day.

Personally, I have mixed feelings on the subject. While I agree that it may not be healthy for children to spend 60-90 minutes outdoors feeling cold and damp, I tend to believe that parents should decide whether their children should participate, no matter what the weather. Obviously if strong winds are blowing dangerous debris about the streets, children should stay indoors. But somehow, I just don’t think it will feel like Halloween when little ghosts and goblins go door-to-door begging for candy in my hometown of Belmont this evening.

Halloween falls at a time of year when the weather is naturally unpredictable. October days can be bright and sunny, with warm, mild nights. Or, the days can be dark and gray with sharp, biting winds and rain at any hour. It is not at all uncommon for nights during the month to feature frost or even temperatures that dip below freezing.

To me, that is part of the charm of the holiday. You never know quite what to expect, and that’s sort of the point. How can you be delightfully frightened if you know exactly what’s coming?

I can recall trick-or-treating in lightweight, plastic costumes, not at all concerned about the weather. I also remember being bundled up in a coat and hood overtop of my outfit, unbuttoning that top layer on request to show off my costume. One year I dressed as an American Indian with braids in my hair and long johns sticking out from under my fringed vest.

I remember pulling a few Halloween tricks amid wicked weather as well. Some of my classmates and friends, such as Donnie and Sandy Kline and Matt Heusel, joined me, braving the cold and windy conditions to toss handfuls of dried corn purchased from Belmont Mills at houses throughout the village. The corn rattled against the windows, hopefully startling the people inside. It also left a bit of a mess behind, but nothing that couldn’t be quickly swept away with a broom. And, the only material we needed for that prank was biodegradable.

I am confident that any time the weather would have been cold or windy enough to be dangerous, our parents would have intervened and insisted that we stay at home.

This past week, several communities that had slated trick or treat for Thursday changed their plans on Tuesday or Wednesday. Most of those cities and villages changed the date to Saturday, which was not a school night and definitely featured calmer conditions.

Perhaps it is a good thing that they did. In some areas of the Ohio Valley on Thursday, heavy rain flooded streets and wind tore small branches from trees and sent holiday decorations flying. Much of the worst of the weather came in the afternoon, but the wind was still strong enough to cause some electrical outages in the evening.

A few municipalities, such as Shadyside, stuck it out and held trick or treat on Thursday. According to reports I have heard from residents, conditions were chilly, but plenty of children still turned out, running about, collecting candy and having a generally good time.

Belmont may be unique in hosting trick or treat this evening. It is scheduled from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Police Chief Andrew Miller announced that his force would be patrolling the streets for safety tonight and on Saturday evening, when costume judging was held at the gym.

Residents who want to participate should turn their porch lights on and be prepared with candy to distribute. Over the years, I have found that it is helpful if you can come to the trick-or-treaters at street level, rather than having them climb stairs to reach your door. Sometimes their costumes can be long enough to be tripping hazards, and masks can make it harder to see and navigate stairs safely.

The weather today is expected to be cloudy and chilly. Those overcast conditions, though, are not predicted to bring rain or significant wind. That means everyone who is appropriately bundled up should be relatively comfortable with the forecasted high temperature of 45 degrees and a low of 31, which likely won’t arrive until late at night.

I intend to be outdoors to greet the children as they come by our home on Market Street. My husband and I plan to set up a small Halloween shop beneath our carport, where we can sit on a couple of chairs rather than on the front stairs. Perhaps we will have a little spooky music or some creepy sound effects playing in the background, along with a little mood lighting. We may even have a startling surprise or two in store for the little ones.

Most importantly, though, we will have plenty of candy. So, if you’re in Belmont for truck or treat this evening, stop by and see us.

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