Halloween is a big deal in Berlin.
I’m not sure my children will ever truly grasp the magnitude of it until they are older and experience a Halloween in another area.
To them, walking outside their door to thousands of people every Halloween is normal. Their mother working for weeks on Halloween props suitable for the chosen theme of the year on the street is expected. It’s commonplace for them to walk into a room around our house and find skeleton heads strewn about and mannequins dressed up for the occasion. Giving their mom their feedback on their costumes and having it become a reality is assumed. Having 2,000 trick or treaters to our home in Berlin is the norm for them. They don’t know any difference.
Additionally, they expect to see characters on stilts walking and dancing on their street, a funeral home becoming a haunted house, a neighbor serving as the music DJ for the entire night, another neighbor handing out cotton candy as their treat, their parents dressing up right along with them and having a mother who is a decorating genius and stops at no lengths to dress up our home for the big day.
Each year our street picks a theme for Halloween. In the past, we have done western, fraternity row, movies (twice), scary freak show and superheroes. This year circus was selected. I was the world’s strongest man, Pam was the ringleader, Beckett was a terrifying clown and Carson was the lion tamer who pulled behind him his makeshift lion and cage.
Because our street is the unofficial ground zero for Halloween in Berlin, we don’t do a lot of trick or treating. We usually hit a dozen homes in our immediate vicinity early on before stationing ourselves at our house to give out candy and adjust any decorations or lights that may go awry due to the influx of crowds.
The kids don’t seem to mind missing out on a night of trick or treating. They understand it’s a busy night. In fact, when I was putting Beckett to bed on Tuesday night, I asked him if he had fun. He said he did and talked about what he enjoyed. He mentioned getting too old to trick or treat and that next year he might just want to wander around our street with his buddies. He sounded more like a teenager than a 9-year-old.
When I said what about getting candy, he reminded me that we buy 2,500 pieces of candy each year and that he could just eat some of that like he does every year, as he emptied his pockets of empty wrappers. At least he didn’t litter I guess.
For the last several years, Beckett has wanted to try out the Burbage Funeral Home, which goes all out to transform itself into a haunted house. Because it’s so crazy on our street, we have been unable to take him. We also weren’t sure if he was ready yet to try it out and still sleep that night.
Thanks to him finding a buddy – whose family was willing to take Beckett with them – he was able to go while we stayed at the house. After he came back, he said it was great when we asked how it went. He said it wasn’t scary at all and that he was fine. The mom later told us he and his buddy walked through the funeral home slowly while hugging each other. We kept that little morsel under our hat. At bed time, it was interesting that he wanted me to hang with him a little longer than usual.
For Carson, it was a working Halloween. That makes sense if you know him because he likes to be kept busy and given a task. We never intended on him giving out candy the entire night. It just worked out that way. It was serious business to him.
It may sound cheap, but our rule is one piece of candy per individual. It’s just the way it has to be when more than 2,000 trick or treaters come by. It turns out Carson was a stickler for the rule except when it came to little ones. He would place a piece of candy in his or her bag and then place another piece in the child’s hand in a covert fashion. It was their own little secret he seemed to think.
There were some unique aspects to this year’s Halloween for me. First, I don’t recall ever seeing so many photographs taken at our house. It was hilarious to watch children of all ages be put in front of a display featuring a two-headed skeleton on a makeshift circus wagon with a sign that read, “Please don’t feed the twins.” Additionally, it was fun to see parents put their baby strollers up next to Pam’s jack-in-the-box creations with supped-up skeleton heads popping out.
The funny thing after each was watching the parents obviously edit the picture and post it online. Next year we need to come up with a hashtag to group them all together.
Along with the crowds that seem to grow each year, what was memorable about this year’s Halloween was a planned flash mob to Michael Jackson’s Thriller on our street. The group, numbering about 30, did this a few times at various different places around town but we loved having them in front of our house.
It was another wonderful Halloween experience. The only negative about the whole day comes in the cleanup effort. That’s why some of our decorations remain on display today as we are still waiting for the Halloween fairy to come and take care of it all.