Trick and treat with cute clowns

BY AJANTA GOSWAMI

As a young child, the two American festivals that our son Sujoy was always excited about- HALLOWEEN, the festival of endless candy and second- Santa orchestrated gifts galore CHRISTMAS. By September the questions would come…

What Halloween costume shall I get this year?
Will you come to Trick & Treat with me?
What candy will you buy?
Can I eat only candies on Halloween day?

Of the many ‘Trick & Treats’ Sujoy attended, the best perhaps, was the very first one he went to, with his first grade class, in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Anything you do for the very first time is always memorable but this Trick & Treat was made much more special by the young, enthusiastic, extremely talented first grade teacher Mrs H. 

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End of September of that particular year, all the parents received a hand written note from Mrs H.’Would the parents of the first grade class consider allowing the students to go treat and tricking as a group? If yes, please consider attending  a parents meeting on such and such date, in order for us to come up with a viable plan!’  She added that if for any religious, cultural or other social reasons, some of the parents were unable to participate in the event, they had the option of not joining, since this was more of a ‘fun  social bonding’ and not a required ‘educational related’ activity.

As many of you, who have kids in school know, all you need is one enthusiastic teacher who is invested in your child and anything is possible!! Sure enough, on the day of the meeting almost all the mothers showed up. But there were quite a few dads too! Everyone was excited. Everyone was supportive. A committee of 4-5 parents volunteers to oversee the whole project was selected. After brain storming for about two hours we came up with the following plan.

  • A safe walk- able neighborhood, near the school, where several of the kids resided, was selected for the kids to go Trick & Treating.
  • Both excellent seamstress, the teacher and her mother offered to make the costumes for the whole class. They decided on a clowns outfit as that apparently was easy to make. Several parents offered to buy  the materials needed and also agreed to help them over two weekends. An easy to carry red candy basket was to be either bought or made by each parent. The weekend before, all the clown costumes would come home with each child.The cost was to be shared equally by all parents. A budget was set. 
  • On the day of  Trick & Treating the parents  or guardians were asked to bring their child  to the school’s parking lot, at least a half hour before the Trick and Treat time(5-8PM). The kids had to come, dressed in their clown costume.  Several mothers offered to do the face painting of the children (the red noses and white patches) before they set off Trick & Treating.The children could use some of the play equipment at the school playground, to burn their excess energy while waiting for the face painting to be completed.
  • The teacher asked for at least, 10 parent volunteers to walk with the children during the Trick & Treating time frame, which for our kids was to be from 6 – 7 PM. I, immediately volunteered to go with the children, as I wanted to see what Trick & Treating was all about. Besides, I was not a seamstress, nor did I have any ideas of how to do face painting.
  • At 7.15 PM  the adults volunteers  had to  escort  all the children back to the parking lot. Parents and other guardians were asked to come to pick up their child no later than 7.30 PM.

At the end of the meeting, one mother volunteered to write the minutes and email it to all the parents. She also agreed to keep the parents informed and upto date via phone calls after consultation with the teacher/committee each week.

I returned home amazed. Not only did every one come to the on time but they discussed each point in a very amicable manner, till everyone agreed on it. The teacher did not tell us what to do. Neither did  any of the other parents. This is the beauty of the western world..everything is meticulously planned and implemented in a democratic fashion, quite different from my own upbringing, where more often than not, our elders / teachers / boss would tell us what to do!

After several such parent meetings ..the big day finally arrived.
I was equally excited as Sujoy for like many of the other parents accompanying the kids, I too, for the very first time decided to wear a costume for Halloween ..an Indian princess dressed in a glitzy Churidar Kameej.

As requested we all met at the parking lot of the school, promptly at 5.30 PM. One of the mother painted Sujoys face with red and white color resembling a clown in 5 minutes! I looked around and snapped a few quick pictures-the kids looked so very adorable. As we went from house to house collecting candy the children received  many compliments about the costumes and manners. We the proud parents beamed with pride. Kudoos to the the creative Mrs H and her mother for this brilliant idea of Trick and Treating as a batch of very cute clowns!!!

One hour flew by fast with no major glitches.  Around 7 PM the parent who kept time said ” to the parking lot we go” And we trudged back weary and tired but extremely happy. It was so much of fun. At the parking lot we thanked the teacher and the committee for an excellent job.
Hip! Hip! Hurrah for Mrs H!
Hip! Hip! Hurrah!

Sujoy, promptly feel asleep the minute our car moved  ” it was……’
“What?” I asked.
No reply.
I turned back to look.
The clown  was fast asleep in the back car seat, with the bag of candy clutched tightly in his tiny hands…a look of contentment on his face!

Handy tips for going Trick & Treating.

  • Trick & Treat in most towns takes place on 31st of October between  5/6–8/9 PM. Times and dates do vary, therefore check the day and time for Trick & Treat for your town. The local Newspaper, radio station, or City/Town hall can provide the information. Don’t start or continue Trick  & Treating outside of  the town’s posted times.
  • Choose a safe and familiar neighborhood. Many children usually go to the homes in their own neighborhood or to a friends neighborhood.
  • Many local malls or shopping complexes may participate and provide candy to the kids visiting. This was done in the earlier days for kids living in unsafe neighborhood. However these days, many families from many neighborhoods end up taking the children to the Malls, especially in bad weather.
  • Make sure the children go in groups and are accompanied by responsible adults. Preferable for kids to wear sturdy shoes, some form of reflective tape for visibility in the dark and to carry only soft costume accessories like swords/daggers etc. Avoid cumbersome masks or tight fitting costumes.
  • Ask the children to walk not run, and cross  the streets with care. Avoid tramping on lawns, flower beds etc. It is preferable to stay on sidewalks whenever possible. Make sure to carry a flashlight with new batteries. The accompanying adults may dress in costumes but it is optional.
  • Go to the houses that are lit up and have the door open. Ring the bell and when the adult / teenager comes out with the Candy, ask trick or treat?. The past history of this tradition was that no nasty tricks/pranks  would be played in the houses that provided the treats. Thank after receiving your candy.
  • In some of these brightly lit houses the candy is left in a bowl next to the front door. Make sure your child dont take all  the candy- maybe a piece or two is sufficient. Leave some behind for the other kids.
  • Folks that do not participate in the Halloween tradition of Trick & Treat indicate their wish by switching  off the porch /patio / front room lights and or leave their front door closed Respect their wishes and bypass these houses.
  •  Avoid going inside the homes, even of folks you know. And certainly dont ask for a drink or to use their restrooms. Make sure to plan for a bathroom / water break beforehand..at a specific friends house or use  public facilities.
  • Eat candy that are factory wrapped, age appropriate and in moderation. Carry an extra Halloween candy bag in case yours break.
  • Trick and Treating is usually done by kids up to 10 or 11 year of age. After that age many prefer to host Halloween costume parties or go to haunted houses etc..
  • Have fun and create memorable memories!

Ajanta Goswami

Ajanta Goswami

Ajanta Goswami MD, has been living in Muncie, Indiana for the past 16 years. She, and her husband Gautam and son Sujoy consider themselves to be "Hoosiers with an Assamese heart". A Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist by profession, Ajanta is actively involved in many community projects pertaining to prevention of Child Abuse, and in promotion and acceptance of diversity population living in the heartlands. She has received numerous community and citizenship awards in the past several years for her work in these fields. Of late she has started a column called "Middle age and restless" in capturing the angst of an middle-aged immigrant living in the States.