As a father, I must admit I have warmed to the holiday, but I still have a problem with all the focus on witches and ghouls and such. A holiday that focuses on scary things still bothers me just a little bit. I've been pleased that my children have typically chosen more wholesome images to emulate through their costumes.
This year was different though. I've actually been looking forward to Halloween since the middle of June. I planned. I prepared. I thought about and strategized about it. But it didn't go quite the way I had it planned. . .
The Garage Sale
Our community has a neighborhood garage sale each June. By planning everyone's sale on the same day more people attend and the event becomes more successful for everyone. For several years my son Parker has had a stand selling lemonade, coffee, muffins and cookies, taking advantage of all of the shoppers who came to our cul-de-sac. Last year, Jim, my neighbor and I added hot dogs and other grilled food to the menu. People could shop and get a meal too! We had so much fun that we did it again this year.
Only this year, we secretly decided to give the proceeds to our neighbors who have a son with autism. At our annual party after the sale we presented them with about $120 (a lot of money when you aren't selling anything over a dollar!) to give to the autism group of their choice.
The mix of the fun we had and the response we received from them led to another idea - let's do this at Halloween. Halloween would be perfect we speculated; lots of traffic (since we always have more than 100 trick or treaters), easy to market (through flyers in the neighborhood), and this year Halloween would be on a Friday. Perfect!
Every few weeks the subject would come up. We would talk about what to serve and how to market it. Jim, who works in the food brokerage business, got sponsors to provide all of the meat. As the calendar turned to October we got more serious and the menu was set: Hot dogs, Bratwurst, Hamburgers, and homemade chili.
As I worked on the marketing flyer these foods became holiday-themed: Halloweenies, Beastie Brats, Haunted Hamburgers and Chilling Chili. We decided to sell soda and chips. We added a place for kids to dunk for apples. We would have the candy from five houses for one stop trick or treating. We distributed over 140 flyers. We were raising money for a great cause. In the final week we even realized we were going to have perfect weather - upper 60's by "game time." We had the perfect setup for a successful event.
Halloween is Here
Friday morning my wife Lori and I made the chili. After lunch we finished shopping for the final items. I couldn't wait to set up! We got everything out - ran extension cords to the street, set up lights, tables and chairs, blocked off the cul-de-sac and fired up the grill.
Two other neighbors were manning the candy - to help the trick or treaters get it and inform them of the houses that were empty. Parker, age 11, decided to help with the event rather than trick or treating. He would take money and answer questions. Jim would take and fill orders, and I was grill man. We fed the families around us, ourselves and our kids to get the grill going and they took off to collect candy and good wishes. We were ready.
It got dark and we had very few trick or treaters, and fewer customers. One mother said she and her son would be back after they were done. We rubbed our hand and prepared for the onslaught.
The onslaught never came.
By the end of the evening we had probably half our typical number of trick or treaters. We sold a little water and soda. We sold a few grilled items. We made $32 (before expenses).
It was a tough night for me. In retrospect, I was as discouraged and disappointed as I can remember being in a long time. It was Sunday before I was really back to normal.
I shook myself out of my self-imposed funk by thinking back on what we did and what we accomplished. $32. (I didn't even count it until Monday. Truth be told, it was more than I expected at that point.) My reflection helped me realize that several positive things happened: