While the majority of Halloweener's are relatively innocent, there is a very dark lunatic fringe that consider this day, a day to wreak havoc on their local constabulary. Statistics show an increase in crime on Halloween at an alarming 22% upwards to 44%. At this time each year, pranks turn into actual crimes. The trick-or-treating anniversary turns into a nightmare on every street for local law enforcement with an increase in vandalism and destructive behavior, not only in Kansas City but, nationwide.
Some ‘trick or treat’ safety concerns to be aware of are; A.) clear vision through masks or hair, make sure eye holes or accessories don’t hinder their view. B.) walk with your kids or make sure that they are walking in a group that is well supervised. Take care crossing the street. At dusk, some drivers have a hard time seeing small, dark costumes. C.) Where brightly colored clothing. Carry plenty of glow sticks or flashing L.E.D. pins, or even a small flashlight, to light your way. Bicycle reflectors work great by taping or attaching to the back or your child’s costume or their bag they carry. D.) Be aware of your surroundings and all the kids in your group. Maintain a semblance of control and order. Don’t knock or ring the doorbell, if the lights aren’t on.
The bottom line, make it a safe and memorable evening. And, parents, glean as much safety information as possible from the following account:
This is a story about my encounter with the dark side of trick-or-treating. The year was 1977, and it was just before dusk, on October 31st. I watched as my little brother set out to trick-or-treat with his friend in my hometown of Frontenac, Kansas. My plans with friends didn't start until much later that evening, so I thought that I would kill a few hours by shadowing my younger brother while he and his friend were going door to door. I thought I’d let him get a nice, healthy lead and I would do a little tricking of my own. I intended, as soon as the sun was completely set, to sneak up on him and his friend, scare them, grab their candy and run away. As an eighth grader, I was a little rebellious, and I wasn’t really thinking of the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” - Matthew 7:12.
My home of Frontenac wasn’t much different from any other middle America, small town. Frontenac, Kansas isn't a very large town, but it was a great place to grow up. Some of the strongest relationships I’ve ever had and some of the greatest food I’ve ever tasted came from this sleeper community populated primarily by immigrant families from eastern and southeastern Europe, predominately Sicilian, Italian and Slavic people from the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Snuggled immediately north of Pittsburg, Frontenac was established as a coal mining town in 1886. With a bit of a dark beginning, in 1888, Frontenac had the worst mining disaster in Kansas history, when an explosion killed 47 of the local miners. So, with each Halloween, walking the streets of this historically charged and ethnically rich community felt like a scene right out of a John Carpenter movie.
One of the main roads connecting the city of Pittsburg, Kansas and Frontenac, was Mt. Carmel Road. In our small town this was a relatively long road running north to south. Mt. Carmel Road, in particular, was a mile stretch of road with driveways about 200 feet apart on the southern end. On Halloween, this road was a gold mine for trick or treaters. So, for a larger haul of candy, my little brother and his friend decided to take this street. I followed them with about a three house buffer. Walking on the small gravel shoulder of the road, there was a common graduation of about 10 feet of ditch on either side of the road, in front of each house, between driveways. So, standing in the ditch, at 5' 9 , I was eye level with the road.
As I walked surreptitiously behind my younger sibling, I noticed headlights about a half a mile up the road. I quickly lost track of my brother as my attention turned to the vehicle's lights that were getting closer and closer and the roar of a really sweet sounding engine was closing in. I was walking on the right side of the road and had to move down in the ditch, because what looked like a truck, was moving into the passing lane heading toward me, a little over 200 feet up the street. I had already moved down into the ditch to avoid getting hit, but, I was running out of real estate and the driveway was a few feet away. I thought to myself, surely I'm imagining this, no one is going to run over me, are they? They have to see me, right? As I was crossing over the top of the driveway, the truck was 15 yards from me and hugging the edge, now slipping off of the blacktop, onto the shoulder closest to me. I could hear the gravel churning. This person wasn't out for a Sunday drive, the truck had to be doing at least 50. I hastily continued to move up the ditch and crossed over the top of the drive. Out of urgency, I eased back into the driveway, in front of the mailboxes...the truck’s engine was extremely loud. The headlights were blinding. The last thing I remember was gravel being thrown...then the lights went out.
The next thing I remembered doing was opening my eyes. I couldn’t open them all the way. I could feel something pushing against my back. After a few seconds I realized that for some reason, I was leaning up against a post, it was the mailboxes. I slowly attempted to pry my eyes a little wider and bits of dirt and gravel trickled from my eyelashes and from my forehead. I could feel that something was terribly wrong. I’m gradually getting my bearings and bit by tiny bit, pain is being introduced throughout my body. I made an expression of some kind and knew right away that their was something seriously wrong with my face.
With slight movement, the debris fell from my eyelashes, it seemed to bounce off of my cheeks and lips. I brought my badly cut hands slowly up to my mouth to investigate. My face was so swollen that there weren’t any wrinkles, creases or laugh lines...it was stretched tight. My lips were sealed closed with congealed blood, dirt and gravel and swelling more by the minute. My head felt like it was going to explode. I carefully ran my swollen hands up and down my body, checking to see if everything was intact. Like ‘Pink Floyd’s, Comfortably Numb’, “...my hands felt just like two balloons.”, but, thankfully, no broken bones.
What had just happened? Did I get hit by the truck? Did a bomb explode? Was I shot? Am I dead? Maybe that was why my ears were ringing and I was so disoriented? My legs were numb and I couldn’t move, yet, all around me were hundreds of pieces of exploded pumpkins. It looked like a gourd massacre. On my right thigh lay the slimy, stringy guts of a pumpkin? What happened? I pulled myself up with the help of the mailbox post and straggled to the homeowners front door that was attached to this driveway. I desperately knocked as hard as possible, banging furiously with my fist and a dear elderly lady came to the door. She stared for a split second then almost lost her teeth, her mouth dropped open so wide. I suppose the sight of a 14 year old boy with multiple injuries, including facial lacerations and several contusions with congealed blood mixed with gravel, covering his body from head to toe wasn’t what she expected when she answered the door on Halloween night.
I found out much later, that a truckload of high school guys were driving around throwing carved and uncarved pumpkins from the back of one of their pick-up trucks. According to the bruising, I surmised that I was pummeled with three pumpkins and two jack-o-lanterns. Two solid pumpkins landed, one hit my right thigh and one hit me in the chest, the third was a mis-throw. The jack-o-lanterns were 50% accurate. One hit on top of one of my feet and the other missed its mark and busted a few inches in front of my feet. Obviously, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Halloween is a great time to keep your eyes and ears open, simply for safety's sake. Costumes should be carefully planned for maximum sight and adequate leg and arm movement. I know that if I had been more obedient, and listened to my parents, my life would have been a lot less painful on that particular Halloween night. I should have never made plans to sneak, scare or steal from my brother and the moral of this story is unbelievably simple. Live your life by the Golden Rule and you won’t reap pain for the evil you sow. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” - Matthew 7:12.
Always remember, safety is paramount on Halloween. Parents, walk with your kids, don’t just sit in the van and wait for them down the street. Dress up with your children and have a blast. Don't be haunted by poor decisions made now. These are the times of your life, be safe and build memories with your kids. No regrets! Take a bag to collect your own candy plunder.
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