As a newbie I was warned but quickly became overwhelmed
The build-up to Halloween was long and strong here in Los Angeles. Every kid's TV show was laden with pumpkin-themed story lines, every store window had a spooky witch's broom.
A month or so of fright-based activities at school and in the community set us up as a family forewarned of the craziness the main event would bring. Even the neighbours knocked on our door to give us the info any newbie would need.
"Hundreds will come," said the lady next door. "Kids will ship in from the hills out yonder!"
I heard what she said but I was too confused by the inaccuracy of her statement. Did she mean airships?
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In the end though, no prior knowledge or well-thought-out readiness could possibly prepare us for what was really going to happen.
As day rolled into evening on the 31st of October I stood by the front door of my house next to a pipe cleaner spider taped to the wall by my 3-year-old and waited for the storm to arrive. At 6pm precisely we were hit by the first wave of the Studio City trick or treaters. My own kids and I were so excited we burst though our front door before they had a chance to knock.
With my cauldron of sweeties I sang "trick or treat" forgetting that it was in fact they who were supposed to say it to me.
My kids and I took turns to hand out the stuff. I developed a simple system, if a child had put a bit of effort into their costume they got an extra sweet. To be honest I felt a bit like the Pied Piper. "Is that your real accent?" asked one of the kids.
"Yes." "Mine's real too," said my son Finn, dressed as a Steam Punk from another realm.
We were certainly having fun but it soon became obvious that I hadn't taken the neighbourly warnings seriously enough. I rather underestimated the overall scope of the proceedings. For the dish-er-out'er of goods (me) there was no break at all. Hundreds of kids and their eager parents were seemingly appearing from nowhere. I looked into the sky at one point half expecting to see an airship. There were at least 20 kids lined up on our front path at any given time. Thankfully while they queued they had things to admire. My creative wife Rosie had carved 10 gnarly pumpkins and strung bed sheet ghosts from the front lawn trees. Dressed as a witch she took off into the night with our own kids in tow, leaving me by the door guarding our booty, dealing it out to the dozens of superheroes, princesses, zombies and freaks.
After spending $60 on 600 sweets it took 90 minutes for my cauldron to run dry. I even sent out the lads on a recovery mission to gather more candy from other houses so we could hand it back out from our own but at 7.30pm precisely Rosie had to call a shutdown to proceedings. My family and I ran inside, shut the door and turned off the lights.