So far, this fall has seen its share of pumpkin-spiced treats, fun hayrides behind tractors on Delaware farms and Friday nights spent crowning homecoming kings and queens at high school football games.
However, this week it is time to light up those jack-o’-lanterns, put on fun or scary costumes, and step out into the chilly night for a little Halloween trick-or-treating.
The Halloween holiday was somewhat subdued last year, as many communities throughout Delaware either canceled or downscaled their trick-or-treat nights and other celebrations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year, with the coronavirus numbers still a concern – but to a lesser degree – Halloween 2021 is beginning to look much more like its former pre-pandemic self.
And that makes everything just fine for Halloween enthusiasts such as Dover’s Terri Tovey Hice.
“I definitely love Halloween, it’s always been my favorite holiday,” Mrs. Hice said. “I am definitely hoping for a more normal turnout for trick-or-treating this year. Last year, many parents kept their kids home, (which was) totally understandable. I was surprised that we did get some, but it was about half as many as usual.
“I am hopeful all is more normal this year not just for me, but for the little ones. They get so excited to come to the door and say, ‘Trick-or-treat.’ They are all so cute in their costumes and their eyes just light up when you drop the candy in their bags.
“Sometimes my decorations and scary music scare the little ones so the parents have to come to the door for them. That is always fun, too. I just love everything about it.”
Some cities and towns — even neighboring ones like Dover and Smyrna — are hosting trick-or-treat festivities on different nights.
Dover’s children will be marching through neighborhoods this Saturday from 5 until 8 p.m. in search of yummy treats, while Smyrna’s youngsters will be on the prowl on the traditional Sunday, Oct. 31 holiday, when they will be trick-or-treating from 5 to 8 p.m. on Sunday night.
Dover officials say that the hours were changed last year from two to three for social distancing purposes but it worked so well, they are doing it again this year.
“I understand that there are some people that are upset that we’re having it on Saturday evening rather than Sunday evening, but it was a consensus that it was a matter of public safety to have it on Saturday night,” Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen said. “It’s a little easier to control and take care of looking out for the kids, and also easier for parents to be able on Sunday night to get their kids ready to go back to school.
“Having it on Saturday night, I hope it’s bigger and better. I’ve looked around town and I’ve seen a lot of people have decorated their houses up, which means to me that we’re going to have a great trick-or-treat.”
For the town of Smyrna and many other communities in Delaware, they elected to stick to tradition.
“Smyrna has traditionally set trick-or-treating on Halloween itself,” said Andrew Haines, town manager for Smyrna.
Be it Saturday or Sunday, cold or mild, most youngsters are just ready to get out and celebrate with some friends.
Mayor Christiansen said it was his grandson who implored him to go ahead with trick-or-treating in Dover last year.
“My little grandson told me that he wished that we would have Halloween because he missed seeing his friends,” he said. “So, I figured that was an opportunity for them to reconnect, kids to get out and do something that was fun.
“Adults also needed to get out and do something that was fun because there are just as many big kids as there are little kids. So we put Halloween back in place. We decided to have it again this year, hopefully bigger and better than it was before.”
Lewes City Manager Ann Marie Townshend said trick-or-treating will return to the beach town this year after a one-year hiatus due to the pandemic. But with the COVID numbers trending in a more positive direction this year, Lewes city officials decided to bring Halloween back.
Kids are especially looking forward to haunting neighborhoods, knocking on doors, and seeking out that favorite treat to put in their bags.
Nobody wants to get a rock, like Charlie Brown infamously receives in the Peanuts Halloween special.
“I can’t wait for Halloween,” said Dante Powell, of Bridgeville, who had just finished shopping at Spirit Halloween in the Dover Mall Wednesday. “Last year I dressed up as a football player but this year I wanted to get a scary costume.
“I decided to go with Carnage, the monster who just had his own Marvel movie. This outfit should scare some people. I know I’ll have fun.”
Whether it’s the camaraderie of being out with friends, knocking on doors and hoping for treats, or dressing up – memories are set to be made this ghoulishly themed weekend.
Dover Mayor Christiansen certainly remembers those fun times.
“I grew up in Prospect Park, Pennsylvania, and didn’t move (to Dover) until I was 11, but the local ice cream store – the Richman’s Ice Cream Store – on Halloween that was their last day for the season and you could go and get anything you wanted from a banana split down to an ice cream cone for free,” Mayor Christiansen said.
“And one time when I was 9, I went back three different times for banana splits and I was so sick … and to this day, I don’t eat banana splits.”
Staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at 741-8230 or email@example.com.