Remember the old-fashioned Halloween Carnival at the grammar school down the block? On the night before Trick or Treat day each classroom was magically transformed into an exciting chance to win something. Although you could still smell the chalk dust, there was not a desk in sight. We were thrilled with fishing ponds, cake walks and toss games. There was a long line to get in the spook house where the big eighth graders were in charge of scaring the younger kids. The cafeteria became Hot Dog Cafe where families gathered to eat dinner before hitting the bake sale for a taffy apple, pumpkin bread or a gooey gooey black and orange cupcake concoction. The EXIT door of the cafe was open and in the grass was the Dunk the Principal booth. You had to have a strong arm and a sharp eye to hit the target that would lower a man or a lady sitting above a big steel bucket into the icy water. You also had to have a lot of tickets. By the end of the evening you would be searching the orange ticket-covered floor for ones that hadn't been ripped in half. Your face mask was dangling in your hand, unless you were a cat or something that was drawn on your face. The goldfish you won would be sploshing around in a plastic bag, next to your bag of goodies filled with wax Dracula fangs, plastic ring spiders, Smarties and candy corn.
I know these carnivals still happen in schools and churches. I haven't been to one in a few years though, and they might be a bit more sophisticated. Last night, six-year old (almost seven) Kenzie, in her cheerleader costume went with her other Nana to a Halloween 'carnival', a family time, in of all places... the grocery store. When I went to see her when she got home, she was out of costume except for her pig tails. Through her sniffles (she's getting over a cold), she was so excited to tell me about the experience. Nana, we trick or treated around the store and guess what, I was number 10 on the cake walk! I didn't win but someone next to me did. I even decorated a cookie with frosting! She then emptied the grocery bag she was clutching. There wasn't an overload of stuff, but a few choice candies and plastic toys. And Nana, look what I won when my fishing pole went behind the box. Was it on a magnet? I asked. No Nana, on a clothespin. (She knows what a clothespin is?) She showed me her winnings including a pumpkin puzzel with tiny balls that roll around in hopes of landing in the eye sockets. She then ran and got me the picture she colored. So simple, a baby blue cat witch holding a pumpkin. It kinda looks like your baby cousin Brody, I told her. Nana! I was going write his name on bottom but I colored over it in orange cause I didn't know if you would think so like me.
On my way home I got to thinking how Halloween can be so innocent and so sweet. Tomorrow on the real day, Kenz is planning on being a witch. I am also going to wear a witch costume, one that her mom had from last year. We are going to be twin witches, Kenzie likes to say.We will trick or treat in a neighborhood where the houses are close together. There will be some scary stuff out there, but we will keep it simple and fun, going from house to house with our flashlights, filling our pumpkins with surprizes to take home and examine. I can't wait!