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Story ID:10131
Written by:Frederick William Wickert (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Oneonta New York USA
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By Fred Wickert

Late in the afternoon today, October 31st and Halloween day I had to make a trip to Oneonta, NY. I left home for the 40 mile drive at 3:45 P.M. in the afternoon. I went through the hamlet of Grand Gorge and noticed a few people in Halloween costumes. There seemed to be as many adults as there were children. I thought perhaps they were coming home from a party somewhere. When I drove through Stamford, I had to stop and drop off a prescription to be filled at the pharmacy. I noted some going door to door already in Stamford. One boy about 13 or 14 years of age seemed to be either overly optimistic or planned on spending the entire evening at it, as he was carrying an empty full sized pillow case for his goodies.

When I arrived in Oneonta I observed a few going door to door there too. It was much earlier than we ever did when I was a young boy, but I understood many people wanted their children finished and home before dark for reasons of safety. Kids in dark colored costumes are really hard for drivers to see after dark.

I had two stops I had to make away from the center of town. When I finished my business there, I planned to stop and visit some friends at a Japanese Restaurant on Main Street in the middle of the business section. When I got near there I saw there were signs posted on both sides of the street. The signs said ďNo Parking after 4:30 P.M. by order of the Police Department.Ē At first I thought they were probably going to have some kind of Halloween parade. Maybe they did later, I donít know. I could see there were people all over the street wearing Halloween costumes.

Being unable to park on Main Street I turned on a side street and then turned in to a driveway for a large public parking lot behind the Main Street buildings. At that time of day, just after 5:oo P.M., the parking lot was usually empty. Today it was very busy and crowded. I found a place to park my car and then walked to the kitchen door of the restaurant where I was let in by the owners brother in law who works there.

When I got in to the restaurant I could not believe what I was seeing. There were crowds of people coming and going from the street in to the front of the restaurant. They were collecting candy and then going back out the door to the next place of business. There were so many people that it was only with extreme difficulty that any customers for the restaurant could get in the door.

The owners of the restaurant have not been there for quite six months yet so they did not really know what to expect. I never warned them because I was unaware of it. The previous owner was also a friend but he had never told me about it and I had never occasioned to be there before on Halloween.

People coming in for trick or treat were also coming to the back of the restaurant to use the bath room. I saw many come in with children so small they could not walk and had to be carried all the time. I thought to myself that those children were never going to eat all the candy collected. The people carrying the children were going to be the ones to eat it. Some of them were already so heavy they were probably diabetic or will be soon and they certainly didnít need it.

I got there soon after 5:00 P.M. I left right around 6:00 P.M. It was not dark outside yet and wouldnít be for nearly a half hour. I asked the owner about candy. He told me he had bought three large bags of it and paid $56 for the candy he bought. He said he was almost run out of it.

I went out the kitchen door and walked to my car. I left the parking lot and turned left to go to Main Street. When I got to the intersection there was one car ahead of me. They were waiting for the light to change. There were people everywhere dressed in costumes and walking both directions on Main Street.

It took three light changes to turn the corner on to Main Street. When I got on Main Street I was sitting across the pedestrian crosswalk at the intersection. There was nothing I could do for there were cars ahead of me that could not move. As I waited for traffic to move I noticed people were ignoring cars and traffic lights. They crossed the street where ever and whenever they wanted to. Now I understood why traffic couldnít move. When I finally got to the Chestnut Street intersection, I was able to see the police had put a barricade across the entrance to the street, effectively changing it in to a one way street for the time being.

When passing through the residential areas there were only a few going door to door for candy. I was astonished at what was going on in the business district on Main Street. I was surprised to see them going in to all the businesses to get candy. When I was a young boy we never bothered a business on Halloween.

It seems terribly unfair to me. First, traffic was stopped completely on one lane. No parking on the street was allowed. These businesses are already hurting and have been for some time because of the economy. Suddenly all the parking is eliminated so potential customers cannot find parking.

I can see why the people like it. They can get a large quantity of candy in a short distance and time, and there are bathrooms to use, even if they are not a customer. The business owners are forced to go along and accommodate the public because if they donít, everybody will talk about how mean and stingy they are, and it will cause them to lose customers.

Personally I think it is a form of black mail to the business owners. I think it is also unfair and unjust to the people who want to use the street. In this type of situation, they canít. Finally, if a fire breaks out in one of those buildings it will be next to impossible to get the emergency equipment in there. The businesses are all on the ground floor at street level. In the second and third floors there are a few offices but for the most part there are apartments. People who live in the apartments will not be able to get near where they live and park their cars. If they are handicapped they are really out of luck.

I am sure this sort of thing is happening in towns and cities across America. I donít believe it should. I think Trick or Treat should be banned from business areas. It is unfair to the business owners, to the apartment dwellers who live there and to customers of the businesses. It is also unfair to motorists passing through. The only reason for it that I can see is the greed of the people who want to grab all the free candy they can get in the smallest amount of time with the least amount of effort.

While they are doing that, what lesson are they teaching their kids? In my view they are teaching their kids GREED! Personally, I believe it is morally wrong to do it that way and I think it should be stopped. It seems to me there is too much greed being practiced in this country already. We donít need to be teaching it to our kids.

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