Halloween: Local Versus College Experience


For young local, trick-or-treaters the focus pf Halloween is on the candy and on dressing up. Courtesy Wendy Walcoff

By Wendy Walcoff

On Saturday, Oct. 31, Humans of VT took to South Street to talk to trick-or-treaters.  Flickering jack-o’-lanterns, witches, the cast of Frozen (including a real-life pony dressed as Sven!) and mad scientists flooded the streets.  The rush of trick-or-treating was like a relay: run up the porch, pass the bag of candy to mom, sprint down to the house that gives away two pieces, catch up with the big kids a few yards away.  We paused on a porch that featured Elvis and Perry the Platypus.

“What’s your favorite thing about Halloween?”

“This,” Perry answered. “Getting to see everybody’s families, and realize how we all come together.”  The chorus of “Trick or treat!” sounded as the masses flowed on and off the porch.

“Hey, look at you! You’re a purple cat!” Elvis said to a young girl reaching her hand into the bowl of candy.

“Yeah.  Just this,” she echoed once more.

We found our way within the crowd, somewhere in between candy givers and takers. The parents traveled in clumps behind, a subset of the Halloween madness we hadn’t noticed years ago when we were the candy collectors.

Though it was difficult to stop students for pictures, let alone interviews, we caught up with one mom while her daughter explored the yard of a Harry Potter themed house.  She wore a sparkly hat to dress up her Patagonia puff, and had a red solo cup in her hand.

“We do the same thing college kids do,” she said. “Except we need it more, because we have little kids.”

Though we didn’t see too many other red cups on South Street that night, it certainly brought the juxtaposition into view.

The College was also celebrating in fine fashion – with perhaps a little less clothing, give or take.

The comparison was plain: two communities running parallel, with the exchange of candy for alcohol and parents for Public Safety.

Just an hour earlier I had been at a college party, on a yard filled shoulder to shoulder with loud music and spilling drinks; hopping over to the other side on South Street, we saw how we could blend in, but couldn’t fit in.

How could what once entirely shaped our Halloween nights become so foreign?  A tradition found in flux, the transition taking place just two streets over.  The same solo-cup woman commented to us that she thought the gap between the larger Middlebury community and the College had been somewhat bridged in the twenty-some years since she had attended the institution.  But she also saw that there was still a divide, as could be seen on nights such as Halloween.

So, we wondered, we have this space between the streets; is it one we wish to fill?

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