Halloween Stats 2020: How New Candy Protocol Saved the Night

Halloween decorations!

Longtime MCC readers have seen a few of these decorations before. All a part of the tradition.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: each year since 2008 I’ve kept statistics on the number of trick-or-treaters brave enough to approach our doorstep during the Halloween celebration of neighborhood unity and no-strings-attached strangers with candy. I began tracking our numbers partly for future candy inventory purposes and partly out of curiosity, so now it’s a tradition for me. Like many bloggers there’s a stats junkie in me that thrives on taking head counts, even when we’re expecting discouraging results.

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2020 Road Trip Photos #33: The Market Underground

Please Watch Your Step!

Do you dare enter…the CATACOMBS OF CREEPINESS? (If you do, watch your head.)

Once again we flout MCC’s “road trip” branding on this miniseries, as the final tourist attraction of our 2020 vacation was a five-minute walk from my workplace. It’s been on our local to-do list for years, but was tough to schedule because it’s held rarely, sells out quickly, and goes forgotten for months at a time till one of us randomly remembers it. This year we had the foresight and a perfect slot in our schedule for all the wrong reasons.

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Halloween Stats 2019: Into the Valley of Death Rode the 14

Halloween Decor!

Some of our yard decor. I really need to stock up on some new gear, though.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: each year since 2008 I’ve kept statistics on the number of trick-or-treaters brave enough to approach our doorstep during the Halloween celebration of neighborhood unity and no-strings-attached strangers with candy. I began tracking our numbers partly for future candy inventory purposes and partly out of curiosity, so now it’s a tradition for me. Like many bloggers there’s a stats junkie in me that thrives on taking head counts, no matter how discouraging the results.

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A Series of Scarecrows on a Small-Town Square

fitness scarecrows!

In this display a Danville fitness center shows us why we’ve never seen a fat scarecrow: they work out till they’re healthy and strawng.

Last weekend my wife Anne and I were out of town visiting my in-laws’ church and scouting the surrounding areas for fresh donuts when we stumbled across a surprise delight. Apropos of the autumn season and the upcoming Halloween holiday, we learned the nearby town of Danville, Indiana, holds an annual contest inviting local businesses to create their own scarecrows. A few craftspeople kept it simple. Some drew inspiration from their own lines of work. Some dove right into pop culture for their subject matter, which of course is bound to catch our eyes. Still others let their imaginations run amok. These were some of the standouts to me, proudly on display around the town square.

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Halloween Stats 2018: 78 Minutes of Human Connection and Candy

Lowes Witch!

When the Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas decorations all compete for shelf space at the same time, it gets hard to remember which holiday is WITCH. EEEEEEH-HEE-HEE-HEE-HEEEEEEEE!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: each year since 2008 I’ve kept statistics on the number of trick-or-treaters brave enough to approach our doorstep during the Halloween celebration of neighborhood unity and beneficent snack donation. I began tracking our numbers partly for future candy inventory purposes and partly out of curiosity, so now it’s a tradition for me. Like many bloggers there’s a stats junkie in me that thrives on taking head counts, no matter how discouraging the results.

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The Birthday Cemetery: Our 2012 Crown Hill Tour, Part 2 of 2

goddess!

To approach this crypt you must first pass the Trial of the Stone Goddess!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Anne and I have a twice-yearly tradition of spending our respective birthdays together traveling to some new place or attraction as a one-day road trip — partly as an excuse to spend time together on those most wondrous days, partly to explore areas of Indiana we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

Once upon a time in 2012, we willfully stayed in town for a change and spent a Saturday at a pair of nearby attractions with connections to the Halloween season. It’s not her favorite holiday, but October is her birth month and she had her motives. The first half of that fun-filled day was spent driving around the most famous final resting place in all of Indianapolis, Crown Hill Cemetery. A renowned institution since 1864, Crown Hill houses several of the Circle City’s bigger names in history and/or local government, as well as the highest elevation point in central Indy…

Our feature presentation was the gravesite of Benjamin Harrison, the only American President buried in Indiana. We also found the burials of a number of Hoosier Vice Presidents and other famous figures and contributors to society. Beyond the purview of our preceding photo gallery, a number of other Crown Hill tombstones, crypts, and special features caught our eyes as we wandered the grounds, took in the sights, tried to be respectful, and hopefully angered no vengeful spirits.

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Halloween Stats 2017: Kudos to the Comeback Kids

Lowe's Skeletons!

Happy couple enjoying their minutes in the Halloween spotlight at a local hardware store before Santa shoves them out of the way.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: each year since 2008 I’ve kept statistics on the number of trick-or-treaters brave enough to approach our doorstep during the Halloween celebration of neighborhood unity and beneficent snack donation. I began tracking our numbers partly for future candy inventory purposes and partly out of curiosity, so now it’s a tradition for me. Like many bloggers there’s a stats junkie in me that thrives on taking head counts, no matter how discouraging the results.

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The MCC Halloween Archive! (Updated)

David S. Pumpkins!

Straight outta C2E2 2017, he’s still David S. Pumpkins. Any questions?

As a Halloween extra for Midlife Crisis Crossover readers who’ve joined us in recent times, or for anyone who loves a good rerun, we offer any or all of the following links to previous themed celebrations of the Halloween season, all eminently worth reviewing and/or sharing with your closest 50,000 followers. Enjoy, and Happy Halloween!

* “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Trick-or-Treaters” — In which I give American kids unsolicited advice on how to do their job properly and earn their free junk food with a clear conscience.

* “Pumpkin Flavored Everything” — Among the precious pieces of fiction ever attempted in MCC’s 1600+ entries to date, this 1000-word tale about family, obsession, and the Great Pumpkin remains the most-Liked.

* “Back When I Wore Halloween Costumes” — Memories of my personal cosplay history, from trick-or-treating as a kid to dressing up in the workplace and other scenarios. Someday I need to plunge into our 35mm collection and dredge up a few of the more embarrassing ones.

* “The Mantis (With Apologies to Poe)” — This obligatory spoof of “The Raven” is based on the absolutely true story of the time a most peculiar animal sat upon our door for several days. And sat. And stared. And sat and sat and SAT.

* “Halloween Stats 2016: Rattling Sabers at Absent Neighbors” — I’ve kept track of our trick-or-treater traffic every year since 2007, when we became first-time homeowners and escaped our old apartment that trick-or-treaters refused to approach. It helps me determine the next year’s inventory, and sometimes I think counting things is fun. Expect a follow-up Tuesday night, though hopefully more than two dozen kids show up for us this time.

Nightmare Pumpkin!

That time I helped paint a Nightmare Before Christmas pumpkin but got denied a prize. Hmph.

Halloween at the Zoo! (Indy Zoo Revue #9)

scary Dorothy!

Scene from a darker Oz timeline in which the Wicked Witch’s hourglass ran out…but Dorothy didn’t let that get in the way of vengeance.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

In June my wife Anne and I took my mom for a walk around the premises of our own Indianapolis Zoo to check out the current residents and the architectural upgrades on a sunny but not-so-sweltering Saturday. In this very special miniseries, we’ll take a look at the beasts and critters who welcomed us and hundreds of other families along the way.

We’ve been to the Indianapolis Zoo several times over the years. A couple of times, we’ve paid visits to check out their holiday programming.

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Halloween Stats 2016: Rattling Sabers at Absent Neighbors

David S. Pumpkins!

Oddly, I never took a single Halloween-related photo this year, so instead please enjoy this nearly irrelevant salute to David S. Pumpkins before he changes into his Thanksgiving gear.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: each year since 2008 I’ve kept statistics on the number of trick-or-treaters brave enough to approach our doorstep during the Halloween celebration of neighborhood unity and beneficent snack donation. I began tracking our numbers partly for future candy inventory purposes and partly out of curiosity, so now it’s a tradition for me. Like many bloggers there’s a stats junkie in me that fiends for taking head counts, no matter how disheartening the results.

Right this way for our annual holiday stats round-up!

Halloween Stats 2015: The Comeback Before the Storm

Star Wars Halloween!

At Walmart, The Force infringes on the Great Pumpkin’s religious turf.

Once again our annual Halloween traditions were besieged with lousy weather that interfered with the one day out of the entire year that my neighbors and I agree to look at each other. Fortunately, this year Mother Nature compromised: temperatures were in the rather hospitable low 50s, much preferable to last year’s anti-seasonal snowfall, and the rains didn’t arrive till around 7:30. In fact, the precipitation was so gentle that we no idea it was even raining till I went to shut off the lights at 8:30. That went a long way toward explaining why we’d gone a full 55 minutes with no further visitors. Duh.

Right this way for three more photos, including my wife’s first costume in years!

Halloween Stats 2014: Snow Falling on ‘Treaters

White Halloween!

Maybe next year we can buy new Halloween decorations with voice chips that sing Christmas carols.

The photo at left was taken earlier tonight, on Halloween night. No, those aren’t real birds. Yes, that is real snow. This kind of poorly timed, anti-holiday pandemonium is what happens when you live in a state that refuses to legislate holiday weather. THANKS, YOU PARTISAN HACKS. I’ll remember this next week on Election Day and all of you will pay somehow.

We knew tonight would be rough. Everyone around us has been talking about the ominous weather forecast for days and preparing for either disappointment or pneumonia. Last year’s event wasn’t freezing or flurrying; worse, it brought a severe thunderstorm that forced Indianapolis to take unprecedented drastic measures and postpone Halloween till November 1st. I didn’t blame them, but the rescheduling killed our turnout. If there were a cartoon nemesis actively trying to end Halloween as part of his master plan to take over the world, he probably spent that night cackling and proposing toasts to himself.

Tonight’s Halloween proceeded on schedule, despite some early light rain and sharp, gusty winds all throughout. I understand snowflakes showed up much earlier in other parts of Indiana, but ours came later. Regardless, the damage was done. We saw very few kids under age five, very few loners braving the harshness solo, and very few young Method actors opting out of winter gear in the name of costume integrity.

Right this way for this year’s attendance figures!

Our Jack Skellington Team-Building Pumpkin Showpiece

Sometimes team-building exercises can take you to the most unexpected places.

During our Customer Service Appreciation Week, our department and several others were challenged to a pumpkin-decorating contest. Each area received one (1) pumpkin, some bottles of paint, three paintbrushes in different sizes, a sheet or two of random Halloween stickers, probably some other art stuff I never even glanced at, and a few days’ advance notice in case we wanted time to formulate a strategy and bring our own art supplies and accessories. Once our allotted time began, we had ninety minutes to go from plain pumpkin to polished pièce de résistance, and with only one rule: no carving. Presumably the company has plans for all the pumpkin guts after the festivities end.

My team landed on the idea of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Pumpkin Skellington!

Right this way for more details and a look at Spiral Hill!

Halloween Stats 2013: Citywide Raincheck Crushes Holiday Spirit

cheap Halloween mascots

My two perennial centerpieces, the disturbing duo of Plastic Faceless Reaper and the Bewildering Spider-Skull . And MCC readers who look closely will recognize a character from a previous entry!

First time in my life, as far as I can recall: this year the city of Indianapolis postponed trick-or-treating until November 1st due to a severe thunderstorm forecast for Halloween night. Considering how the eventual storm left thousands of residents without power for hours, I can’t dispute that it was the right call from a public safety standpoint. Our household was spared the worst of the ostensible onslaught. Our lights blinked once, and one of my Halloween crows fell on its side. If there’s a problem level more insignificant than “first-world problems”, that’s where our threat level fell.

The unavoidable rain delay killed our neighborhood turnout, though.

Click here for dismal results…

The MCC Halloween Archive!

October fire pit

Bring a lawn chair, cozy up to the fire pit, and share an MCC entry or two from last October with the entire family!

As a Halloween extra for Midlife Crisis Crossover readers who’ve joined us within the past year, or for anyone who loves a good rerun, we offer any or all of the following links to last year’s themed celebrations of the season:

* “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Trick-or-Treaters” — In which I give American kids unsolicited advice on how to do their job properly and earn their free junk food with a clear conscience.

* “Pumpkin Flavored Everything” — Of the four (4) pieces of fiction ever attempted in MCC’s 530-odd entries to date, this 1000-word tale about family, obsession, and the Great Pumpkin remains the most-Liked so far.

* “Halloween Stats 2012; or, the Decline of Trick-or-Treating Civilization” — I’ve kept track of our trick-or-treater traffic every year since 2007, when we became first-time homeowners and escaped our old apartment that trick-or-treaters refused to approach. It helps me determine the next year’s inventory, and sometimes I think counting things is fun. Expect a follow-up this year, though a day late because Indianapolis has officially postponed festivities to Friday due to rampant murderstorms in our Thursday night weather forecast. Boo, hiss.

Enjoy! And Happy Halloween!

The Mantis (With Apologies to Poe)

The Deadly Mantis

Once upon a weekday dreary, one that ended with us bleary,
Still we persevered to complete every forgotten chore
As my wife, who got home first, often has the workload worst
Let out the dog before he’d burst, burst right through the door
“Hold on, already!” she muttered, “First let me at the door —
Then you’ll go, and not before.”

For dog’s sake she flung the entry, when, while standing there as sentry,
Nearby hung a praying mantis about as tall as Tipper Gore
Perhaps a slight distortion make I, but it looked her in the eye
It, with mien of calm and cool, perched right on our outer door —
Perched upon the squeaky hinge that held fast our outer door —
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

(Continued…if you dare!)

Back When I Wore Halloween Costumes

Harry Potter costumes

Fortunately for our uncommon family, J. K. Rowling created characters for every imaginable somatotype.

For one and only one glorious Halloween in 2003, our family decided to dress up in a unified theme. Left to right in that aging 35mm photo are my son as Ron Weasley, myself as Hagrid, and my wife as Professor Sprout. At the time we were all fans of the series in books and movies, though they both fell out of favor with my son as he grew old and too-cool. My wife read all seven books multiple times and spent painstaking hours upon hours compiling her own comprehensive Harry Potter lexicon. My fandom level fell reasonably between the two.

Most of the accessories were thrift-shop finds. My son’s Weasley hair was simulated using an entire can of orange hair spray. We spent the evening accompanying her sister’s family and had a total blast. And then we never did it again.

Old man’s costume history follows…

Halloween Stats 2012; or, the Decline of Trick-or-Treating Civilization

Halloween decorations 2012Each year for the last five years I’ve kept statistics on the number of trick-or-treaters who graced our doorstep during the Halloween celebration of neighborhood interconnectedness and benevolent snack donation. Up to 2007 we lived in a secluded section-8 apartment that roving candy-hoarders easily overlooked. After we became first-time homeowners, our first Halloween in the new house blew us away as the head count soared without warning from zero to dozens. Our supplies were exhausted so quickly that a few poor stragglers were cursed with rejected Easter leftovers. Three cheers for the eternal freshness of American preservatives.

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The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Trick-or-Treaters

Three weeks from now, our fair neighborhood will be observing Halloween, the one day of the year in which we’re all willing to look directly at each other, and maybe even speak to each other if we’re feeling particularly peppy and high on sugar. For once the children leave their entertainment screens behind for the space of two or three hours and patrol the area in search of the best kind of free handouts — the kind with no government strings attached. For me, it’s a form of community involvement, one of my rare opportunities to engage in brief fellowship and do nice things for the people around us whose names I still don’t know.

Kids of my neighborhood, or of neighborhoods exactly like mine: pay close attention. This is your target. It’s called “a neighbor’s house”.

Halloween decorations

2009 file photo. 2012 decorations and setup TBD.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it and your parents aren’t paranoid enough to forbid it, will be to approach houses like mine and undergo the traditional step-by-step procedure to obtain free candy in exchange for ten seconds of human interaction. I realize this is asking a lot from some among you. If you’d rather forgo the expenditure of effort and simply write “LOTS OF CANDY” on Mommy’s grocery list instead, far be it from me to lecture you about all those generations of diligent children who were better than you.

In preparing yourself mentally and emotionally for the evening’s task, I recommend adhering to the following principles to ensure that your candy donors are impressed with your performance and don’t regret spending dozens of dollars on all those giant bags of junk food. Remember, you’re not just out there to mooch from us adult strangers: you’re there to win at Halloween.

1. Dress like the person you aren’t, not the person you are. Your everyday street clothes are not a costume. Makeup is a good start, but should not be your sole costuming medium. If your so-called “Halloween costume” is comprised entirely of clothes you’ll wear more than three times this year, you’re a deadbeat who’s making the Spirit of Halloween cry. Even if your family can’t afford to overspend on store-bought get-ups, at least try to create something that requires the use of scissors, glue, tape, or food — anything that says, “I tried.”

2. Knock or use the doorbell. A single rapping or button-depress will do. More than once is permissible if it’s my fault that I’m taking too long to answer the door. Three times in fifteen seconds makes you look desperate and increases the odds of my throwing your candy at you overhand. Standing motionlessly on my porch, staring at my door, and waiting for me to detect your heartbeat or the fluctuation in the air pressure caused by your occupancy of that space is not traditional door-to-door decorum and I totally won’t hear you. Shyness is understandable, but hardly meritorious under the circumstances.

3. SAY THE LINE. Three words, three syllables: “Trick or treat!” It’s not a secret password known only to members of the Halloween Cabal. Anyone can memorize it. Some of your peers seem to have trouble vocalizing it. No one is expecting you to spout anything nearly as complicated as, say, “supraventricular tachyarrhythmia”. If I open the door for you, your response is THE LINE. Staring at me silently and expectantly will be rewarded with me returning the silence and motionlessness in kind. I can stay locked in that position all night if I have to. I might even make it worse with eye contact. Don’t test me on this.

4. Don’t make me open your container for you. Take the lid off your bucket, open your plastic bag or pillowcase wide, pull up the flap on the hiking backpack, whatever. If I have to do that part for you, from a distance it’ll look as though I’m trying to steal from your stash, to say nothing of the weird violation of personal space required to keep your share of my candy from dropping all over my unswept porch.

5. Don’t immediately look into your bag to evaluate your spoils. That’s just rude. My candy bucket was right there before your very eyes where you could see it, and already you’re inspecting the results? Are you checking for explosives? Are you afraid I pulled a bait-and-switch and gave you broccoli lollipops instead of chocolate bars? Can you really tell my candy apart from the dozens of other treats in your bag? You do know most of us benefactors hand out pretty much the same brand names, right?

6. SAY THE OTHER LINE. Two words, two syllables: “Thank you.” They’re English and they’re common in some circles. If it helps, write them on the back of your hand. Weeks in advance, if need be. Practice saying them to yourself in a mirror. Use flashcards. Have a friend drill you. By any means necessary, learn them. They’re your easiest way to validate me as a human being so I don’t feel like an unloved vending machine that you’re taking for granted.

7. If you’re a baby, see to it that your parent does all of the above for you. If your parent can’t handle the job, cry uncontrollably until they agree to find a cool aunt or uncle to take their place. You may have your whole life ahead of you, but it’s still too short to leave yourself at the mercy of amateurs.

Remember: enjoy the evening; be safe and sensible; travel in groups where possible; and — I can’t emphasize this enough — don’t forget your lines. If five words is too taxing or you’re struggling with stage fright, ask Mom or Dad to stand off to one side with cue cards. Pretend you’re hosting Saturday Night Live and have to succeed lest you ruin the funniest sketch of the night and end up being mocked in a thousand YouTube response videos. Have fun!

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