I love Halloween. The main reason that I love Halloween is that the people in my neighborhood, and specifically the people on my block, love Halloween and celebrate in big ways. I've written about how we get over a thousand trick-or-treaters. I've written about what it's like adjusting to life in a Halloween destination neighborhood. This year I thought I might get to write about our block having the biggest and best Halloween ever! Instead, I am writing about an ugly feud that began in a neighborhood email thread.
When I realized that Halloween would be on a Saturday this year I thought it might be fun to get a block party permit to let the Halloween throngs that crowd our sidewalks pour out into the street as well. I didn't mention this to anyone because I assumed I was the only one who would be that into Halloween, but I was wrong.
At our summer block party someone else brought up the same idea: blocking off the street to cars for Halloween. A group of us started sharing ideas. We could have huge decorations! We could set up our sun shade tents in the streets and decorate them as additional trick-or-treat spots! There was some mention of trying to get a band or performers. This was going to be an awesome.
The neighbor who typically coordinates our block party emails sent out a message a few days later asking what people thought about this idea. I assumed that responses would vary between overwhelming enthusiasm and lackadaisical apathy. Boy, was I wrong!
A lot of neighbors hate, hate, hate this idea. They think it would keep trick-or-treaters away. They don't know where they'd park their cars. One anti-visionary stated, "Halloween is enough fun as it is."
There were some reassurances offered to the dissenters. I personally offered to make large signs to say that trick-or-treaters were welcome. Someone said people could keep our cars parked on the block if they didn't intend to move them. No one's opinion budged even a little.
It was ugly. I was saddened and disappointed.
After a while the emails stopped, and I assumed it was over. I went back to dreaming small about Halloween: decorations would be limited to my house and yard, my costume would need to be something that could fit comfortably in same. Fine. Whatever.
Then last week an email came out from a neighbor saying the block party permit for Halloween was obtained. I was surprised and hopeful. Perhaps things had simmered down after the last email I saw. Perhaps there had been discussions and everyone was on board.
More angry emails. More angry rebuttals. Back-and-forth. Back-and-forth.
Finally, one brave soul (who happened to be pro-Halloween block party) offered to have people over to his house to discuss the matter. I didn't attend the meeting, but I've heard it was as ugly and contentious as the emails that proceeded it.
The decision was made to have a vote. One vote per household. Do you want to block off the street on Halloween? Yes or No. I found the ballot in my mailbox after work.
My prediction is that the vote will be close but will skew to the nos. It barely matters anymore. No matter what happens half the block will be unhappy either feeling forced into something they didn't want to do or prevented from doing something that they really thought would be great.
The sense of magical community that I always loved about Halloween on my block is gone. In a way, Halloween has already been spoiled.
No matter what Halloween looks like on my block this year I will try to make the best of it. I'm sure that Halloween will still be fun (particularly if it doesn't hail like it did last year), but some things have been broken, most notably my heart.
But don't worry. No matter what happens in the neighborhood I already have something special planned for Listing Toward Halloween this year. If you are already in the Halloween mood you can follow @halloween4all on Twitter or Halloween Queen on Facebook for Halloween content now.
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