by Rick Allen
It starts as a trickle, within a few minutes it becomes a flood and within an hour or so it is gone. No, I am not writing about Waco Creek at the height of a Texas flash flood. I am describing the visceral experience that we who live on Colcord Avenue call “Halloween on Colcord.”
Only a decade ago, the numbers were high but manageable. Five hundred to eight hundred trick or treaters plus their parents would visit our stretch of Colcord for a couple of hours once a year. No big deal…but then we began to ask our neighbors in other neighborhoods about how BIG Halloween had become. “Oh yes”, they would exclaim, “We went from 20 to 30 trick or treaters this year”. We would eye them suspiciously…Were they even home? Were they turning off their light at 7:00pm? Had they run out of the whole bag of 25 Snickers? When we regaled relatives in Omaha of our fright night experience of hundreds of munchkins and their parents in 2 hours, we would be derided for embellishing our stories with Texas braggadocio.
Then it really took off. About ten years ago, Ryan and Kristen R. enlisted their Sunday school class to do a hot dog give away and outdoor carnival. The first year, they gave away 500 dogs with chips and a drink. The next year…the word was out. People began car pooling their kids to Colcord. We upped the ante to prepare for the onslaught. By 5 years ago we were handing out over a thousand pieces of candy in 2 hours. We called in reinforcements; first from the neighborhood, then, HEB and friends from across the city. We set up candy stations with shifts of 30 minutes as we would wear out handing a child a piece of candy and commenting on how lovely their witch costume or Spiderman costume was. We enlisted the City of Waco to supply barriers to block off 3 blocks for the children’s safety. Last year, the Good Neighbor House (who took over the hot dog grilling) handed out over 800 hot dogs. The Capps, at the head of the blocked off street, handed out 2000 pieces of candy. We ran out of candy and wore out five adults by 7:30. Our final bag count was 1,550 pieces. Yes, from 5:30 when the two to three year olds come with mom to 7:00 when kids come running in groups of five to seven to get in line to 7:30 when we darken the whole house to let the stragglers know that we are bereft, empty and exhausted of candy supplies, it comes and goes. By 8:00 we secretively wander out to open the barricades once more and life returns to “normal” on Colcord.
You may ask why? Why us? Why continue? Our church has been teaching us adults more about hospitality and doing for the least of these with no thought of earthly or spiritual gain…maybe that is it. I know I do it because there is no delight like seeing wee ones dressed up in costumes and taking their first tentative steps at socialization by saying, “trick or treat” and then after the candy drops into their bucket, saying, “thank you”.
Rick Allen has worn many hats since coming to Waco in 1982. He has been a history and English teacher, social worker, therapist, special educator, school counselor, Dean of Students, Waco City Councilman, landscaper, xeriscaper, pedicab entrepreneur, B&B host, board member, Sunday school teacher, junior college instructor, MHMR curriculum writer, public speaker, blogger and dad.
The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.