Alan Ferdman | ‘Normal’ Halloween, Then and Now


To my readers: You might be wondering why I did not write about the elections. My columns are written on Sunday and then published on Friday. So, look for my commentary on the Nov. 3 election next week. I hope every one of you voted.

I, like many of you, am more than ready to return my daily life to normal. Not the new normal, or the COVID normal, but the good old Red, White, and Blue, American normal. I made the decision to do what I can, as soon as I could, and got a good start on Halloween, by taking a first step down the road to normalcy. 

I am also fed up with listening to the “talking heads” in the news, pretending to know how to solve the COVID pandemic. They continue to tell us to follow the science, when it was obvious, no science existed when we first were alerted. In late January, the COVID-19 virus was new and unknown. The concept of flattening the curve was taken from the actions identified in the 1918 pandemic, not to save lives, but to prevent the nation’s emergency medical facilities from being overwhelmed. Extraordinarily, little science exists even today. 

We have marginal methods of slowing the spread, some treatments have been established, and a vaccine, “the first bit of real science,” which may hopefully be ready in the near term. What has transpired is, the public has been terribly frightened, and receptive to a set of common fables that may or not be true and are now thought of as common knowledge. We hear of more than 200,000 COVID deaths, but we do not appear to know the real number? What we have seen is, many reports showing data being inflated by doctors and medical facilities, using the COVID death designator to enrich their organizations.

So why did I pick Halloween as my turning point? First off, it is because Halloween has become one of my favorite holidays, which, at one time, was a really big deal here in Santa Clarita. Since then, Halloween had also been dealt a fall from favor by common knowledge, which has not been based completely on facts. Growing up through the end of grade school in Brighton Beach, New York, left me with no memory of the holiday. Then moving to California and living on Sunshine Terrace in Studio City was not much better. With only about a half-dozen children living near our hilly street, not one trick-or-treater ever knocked on our door. It was not until I became vehicular-mobile was I able to visit the surrounding areas and witness how the holiday was celebrated. 

Yet, my introduction to Halloween night truly manifested itself when I moved my young family to Santa Clarita in 1965. With only about a quarter of the current population, parents as well as their children were serious and made the best of our small town. Car and van loads of costumed trick-or-treaters were driven all around our community. The first couple of years I was overwhelmed when, after giving out all the candy I had purchased and emptying our cupboards of every cookie and apple in the house, I still had to turn some children away. 

To judge what I would need the next year, I bought containers of Double-Bubble gum. By including one piece with my candy offering, I counted the number of trick-or-treaters who visited and estimated what next year’s purchase would need to be. At the height of those early Santa Clarita Halloweens, I was hosting more than 350 candy-hungry children each year.

Then, in the late 1970s, reports of razor blades and pins in Halloween candy were in the news, and similar incidents are still being reported today. I do not know what kind of a sick person would do such a hideous thing, but on some rare occasions I believe it does happen. Parents were looking for ways to keep their little ones safe. Some medical facilities offered to X-ray the candy. Some parents simply threw out the candy the children collected and replaced it with their own stock, other parents only allowed their children to collect candy from trusted sources, but many parents simply ended their children’s Halloween night adventure.

As the number of children trick-or-treating started to drop, the number of homes participating dropped as well. I no longer had to buy special candy to count my visitors, as several years ago my count fell to approximately 40. Almost all of my trick-or-treaters lived close by, and every now and then, I would have a parent tell me, they remembered coming to my house for me to give them their trick-or-treat candy.

So, this year, with all the rules placed on parents and children, I wanted to return to the normal of old. I usually light up my yard with blow-up figures and rope lights, but this year I added even more. I wanted to attract as many trick-or-treaters as possible, since not many houses in my area would be participating. I felt it important to make the children feel comfortable and have a good time. To do the same for their parents, I sat in my front yard the entire evening, purchased candy with individually sealed packaging, made sure I was masked, and handed out treats with a gloved hand. 

To my pleasant surprise, more than 70 trick-or-treaters visited my house. Some even arrived by car and after receiving their treat, were driven away looking for another Halloween opportunity. It made me incredibly happy, thinking normalcy may be returning sooner than expected.

Alan Ferdman is a Santa Clarita resident and a member of the Canyon Country Advisory Committee board.

Related To This Story

Latest NEWS