Dear America, Please Don’t Kill Halloween


Halloween is about the best thing about American childhood that our helicopter culture has been unable to ruin–yet. Despite our constant control of our children, on Halloween they can run around freely, sometimes even without their parents, and ask strangers for candy!

It’s a holiday all about facing fear: fear of the dark, fear of having to knock on someone’s door, the irrational fear of witches, ghosts, and demons running through the night… If you take the metaphor far enough, Halloween is about facing our fear of death–and all the gruesomeness attended with it.

Halloween laughs at fear, at death itself. We come out of the other side of the Haunted House exhilarated and alive. Children come home from a night of battling terror with a big old bag of candy as a reward.

Halloween is an emotional learning experience wrapped in chocolate joy. It should be defended and preserved not killed off by a bunch of ninnies worried about creepy clowns.

So let’s talk about the clowns. My daughter came home the other day and said kids told her clowns are luring children into the woods and killing them. This is not patently not true—but too many adults have bought into this urban legend/internet hoax and given it even more power. I recently got a message blast from the school district superintendent herself telling parents to watch out for clowns! (none have een been spotted in our area.)

Now, our elementary school says the kids cannot wear clown costumes—even though it’s Halloween and the children are in elementary school. Clowns are funny and scary. They are perfect Halloween costumes for the under 12 crowd. Even better that there are these rumors running around, let the children face that fear–and laugh at it.

As reasonable adults, we should know better than to give credence to fears that have no basis in reality.

When I was a kid, the threat to Halloween was razor blades and poison in candy. These threats turned out to have little actual truth to them, but ever since then no one can give out any homemade goodies. That changed the neighborhood feel of Halloween forever. Suddenly all our neighbors were suspect: they could all be out to maim children! To this day, people still don’t hand out anything but pre-packaged candy, and some hospitals even offer free x-rays of that.

If the clown scare follows the same illogical pattern, the fear-control-freaks will start limiting what kids can wear for Halloween. (I mean forget clowns! Have you noticed that many kids dress like murderers from the movies? Complete with fake chainsaws and bloody knives!) Let’s not turn all costume wearers into would-be child-murderers.

Some time ago, a couple I knew who were new parents wore beanies on their head and carried around their baby at a Halloween parents—they were dressed as helicopter parents. At the time, I thought it was a brilliant costume. But I should have been afraid. After all, they were dressed as the biggest threat to Halloween.

Frown Clown

 Photos creative commons license; top: anjanettew. Bottom: Shawn Campbell
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