Joseph Cyr Credit: Joseph Cyr

Halloween was always one of my favorite holidays as a child and it still is. Next to Christmas, it is one of the greatest traditions for a kid. I mean, what child doesn’t like free candy?

While some begin their ritual shortly after school lets out for the day, for me it was always about waiting until it just started to get dark before getting decked out. It makes so much more sense to get dressed up as a vampire or Batman, dressed in all black of course, and head out once the sun sets, right?

This year, the weather was not overly cooperative, and neither were my kids. First, my oldest decided at 14 she was “too old” to get dressed up, and instead invited a friend over. That was all fine, I still had one daughter who was eager to go out, even if it was cold and rainy.

[Click here to receive Crown and Down, or other northern Maine newsletters, in your inbox]

Unfortunately, the playoff soccer championship I was covering in Mars Hill went to overtime, so I did not get home until later. I texted my wife and said to start without me, but my daughter wanted to wait.

Once I finally got home, we had to stop first at my father’s house. About halfway there, I realized we forgot to bring a flashlight. Thankfully, my father had one to spare even if it was an enormous “maglite” style.

I only ended up walking a short distance this year as my father wanted help passing out his candy, so my wife and daughter had to carry on without me. It certainly was a treat, though, to see all of the wonderfully elaborate outfits kids came up with this year.

Trick-or-treating has also evolved over the years. As a trick-or-treater in the early 1980s, I can still recall the “candy tampering” incidents, that were rampant at that time. Hearing reports of razor blades or needles hidden inside candy bars was enough to cause every parent to be overly cautious.

I remember coming home from gathering candy and having to wait patiently as my mother meticulously went through the bounty before getting any chance to eat it.  Now I get to do that for my children and I may, or may not, drag out the process by slowly picking up each piece and giving it a good once over before signing off. I also may or may not open and eat a piece or three just to be sure.

Living in northern Maine, we never know what type of weather it will be for trick-or-treating. This year, some areas in The County had small amounts of snow on the ground. I can faintly recall going out one year when I was probably 8 or 9 years old with significant snow on the ground. Why does this stick in my memory? Well, because I also not-so-fondly recall slipping and falling on said snow and having all of the candy in my little plastic jack o’lantern go spilling all over the yard.

Costumes have changed dramatically since I was a child. Back then, we purchased a vinyl costume that went over your regular clothes (and sometimes snowsuit) and came with a large plastic mask. The vinyl smelled strangely like a new swimming pool liner, while the plastic masks would get all wet from perspiration and condensation as there was rarely any hole for your mouth.

Today’s costumes are far more realistic, with fabric suits complete with built-in padded muscles no less. Back in my day, “Spider-Man” and “Darth Vader” costumes were always my favorite and it is nice to see those are still popular today — albeit on a much fancier level. Homemade costumes have also grown in popularity.

And for those who are not comfortable taking their children door-to-door soliciting for candy, many churches and recreation departments in The County hold “Trunk or Treat” events in a more controlled environment.

All in all, it was a successful hunt for loot for my daughter and she even shared some of it with me — after I carefully “inspected” it of course.

Joseph Cyr is the senior reporter/sports editor for the Houlton Pioneer Times.