Don’t sanitize Halloween

There’s many things I love about living in Salmon Arm, but most certainly in my top five is the Halloween Treat Trail in downtown

There’s many things I love about living in Salmon Arm, but most certainly in my top five is the Halloween Treat Trail in downtown.

Due to Oct. 31 being on a Saturday this year, the downtown event will run Friday, Oct. 30 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and undoubtedly will see crowds of costumed trick-or-treaters take to the streets in search of a grand sugar rush.

Coming from the city originally, this event is part of what makes living in a small town so special. It’s warm and neighbourly. I always end up bonding with some other parents as the young-uns charge from business to business accepting a gumball or Tootsie Roll

One thing both the kids and I agree on is that closing off some of the streets is really cool. My kids think so because they love to be able to walk down the middle of the road without their mother yelling at them, and I love not having to worry about traffic during the frenzy.

Another one of the best parts is that the Shuswap Children’s Association hands out free books, which to my book-loving daughter, is an even bigger score than a mini-Skor bar.

(Thanks to the efforts of the association and its sponsors, more than 20,000 free books have been handed out in our area alone.)

I want the businesses who participate (my own Observer office included) to know that people are grateful for the effort and the expense of participating. They are adding essential strands to the fabric of our community and are building lifelong memories for the children who join in the fun.

And to those who close their doors instead, well, I can’t help but feel it’s a bit grinchy. But I suppose it happens in neighbourhood trick-or-treating as well. There’s always the resident who keeps the lights turned out, avoiding Halloween altogether.

The Halloween spirit is also not entirely embraced by some educators. While wearing your costume to school used to be de rigueur, a number of Salmon Arm schools are dropping the Halloween accoutrements. There’s no-candy rules at some, or alternative Orange and Black Days at others.

Some teachers have decided that rather than lose valuable learning time, which already gets pressured by Remembrance Day, Christmas and a host of school cultural assemblies, they will forego this holiday. The rationale is also that kids get too out of control and the party atmosphere can create unneeded stress and angst for students and teachers alike. And, as one teacher informed me, this year is a double whammy. Halloween and a full moon in one week.

“A recipe for crazy,” I read in one social media post.

But there’s a part of me that thinks, isn’t that what Halloween’s all about? Some wild abandonment in our often staid lives? A chance to be someone different, to live out our imaginations of being a super hero or a vampire or a genie?

I’d hate to see Halloween end up as a holiday that looks like it has had all the fun scrubbed out of it with anti-bacterial soap.