Several years ago, Main Street Newtown began being the go-to destination for trick o’ treaters from all over Newtown and Sandy Hook, sidewalks spilling with costumed families and extended families lining up from as soon as school dismissed until the candy ran out.
Generous homeowners decking their homes with delicious ghoul and ghosts, to greet thousands – yes thousands of visitors, from all over Connecticut now that word spread, all in quest of bite-sized memories.
Which kinda sucks when you are waiting for trick o’ treaters on Halloween night alone on your couch, just you, a bottle of cheap wine, day old take out, and Dancing with the Stars. Waiting. And waiting. And nobody comes. You’ve been stood up by an entire community.
Home alone on Halloween. Again.
I’m a country girl who grew up in a rural area in sortof-kinda-but-not-really upstate New York, that had so few trick or treaters, my parents would leave a bowl of apples on the stoop just in case, then turned the lights off. Our house would have been egged if there had been anybody around to egg it.
As a kid, when I wanted to trick or treat, we’d schlep to the one or two neighborhoods in town, or be driven from house to house, while a patient dad waited in the car and ate half our stash whenever he could get away with it.
Older, we’d hoof it the acres and acres between houses only to discover they were born again Christians, or Jehovah’s Witnesses and didn’t celebrate such horror, and even though we’d hiked up their dirt road of an endless driveway, we got nothing but a ‘sorry, kids.’
Most on those rural routes were like my parents, and didn’t expect trick or treaters so left apples, or worse: began digging desperately into cabinets for stale fig newtons, a forgotten restaurant Andes Candies, even Baker’s Chocolate, and once – a banana wrapped in aluminum foil.
Fast forward 30 years, and I’m raising my own family in a quasi-suburb, looking forward to a real Halloween in a real neighborhood. Those first years, we celebrated with gusto, creating haunted walkways, cauldrons of hot apple cider outside on an open fire, scare crows, tons of candy – the good stuff – and Rocky Horror Picture Show music blasting from the house. My kids could do the Time Warp before they could ride a bike. Late(r) visitors had no problem discerning if anyone was still up at our house.
Me and mine (my rather attractive husband) would park our scary, happy asses at the end of the driveway in dilapidated lawn chairs, and share homemade wine with the neighbors, giving away fists full of candy to anyone who stopped by, regardless of size or age.
But in recent years, Main Street has hijacked our kids, and our decorations have dwindled, music turned off, yet still I wait. Maybe this year will be different. It’s not. I’m solo, with a bottle of wine watching Dancing with Stars, but the lights are turned on bright, and candy is at the wait, just in case. But year after year, the candy remains, because no one comes at all, except immediate neighbors: young families with little kids who always make a stop after their early pilgrimage to Main Street mecca.
The same little kids, now old enough to climb the steps of our porch themselves, and reach the doorbell with squeals and smiles.
We’ve created a new Halloween tradition in our little forgotten neighborhood, and they know what’s coming.
Broccoli. Or celery. Maybe olives. I’m the crazy broccoli neighbor, tricking them with bowls of tricks (broccoli is best), hiding the good stuff, the giant sized Hershey’s and Reeses, just long enough they doubt the sweet reward exists at all.
This time, olives. Green olives with red pimento sticking out like a tongue. When they snubbed their noses, albeit politely, I instead offered black pitted olives, extra large, one for each finger. Still unsatisfied, out comes the long awaited broccoli. Last year raw, bite sized crowns, once a giant broccoli branch I waved around in shock and disappointment they didn’t want it. This year, I presented them with steamed broccoli florets, lightly salted.
They didn’t appreciate the effort.
For several years they know what’ coming, and they still laugh, the older ones humor me with an eye-roll and snicker, the younger ones with fits of giggles. There’s only eight or nine of them, with parents and grandparents in tow, maybe a cousin or two, all knowing the broccoli lady will never disappoint.
And I didn’t. This year, we avoided the full size Hershey’s, and presented like a royalty crown: the giant sized. King size. Reese’s too. Take your pick, I offered, but the littlest one of all, he wanted more olives. He’s my favorite.
Main Street has the magic, any if you ever visit Newtown, do not miss Halloween on Main Street. But for us locals who miss the kids who now flock to the popular spot, this neighbor knows how to keep them coming back for more. Broccoli.