Weeding Through the Fray of Halloween

By Roger Currie

Apologies to my 10-year-old grandson, but every year seems to bring more reasons to dread that ancient ritual called Halloween. I was an enthusiastic trick-or-treater for a few years as a youngster, but it ended for me just about the time that Bud Grant won his last Grey Cup as coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and Ronny Lancaster was preparing to move his family from Ottawa to Regina.

It was about that time that we first heard stories about the ghosts and goblins coming home to find that someone had given them apples with nasty things like razor blades and pins in them. Just when you thought that tasteless commercialism couldn’t sink any lower, this year we have costumes that resemble the hazardous material suits that are worn by people who deal with victims of the Ebola virus. Scratching a little deeper, we find out that one of the bestselling costumes last year was a Hazmat suit, complete with oxygen mask, inspired by the hit TV series “Breaking Bad.” The main character in that one was a high school teacher who turned to the manufacture and sale of crystal meth.

There are many other examples of Halloween costumes that seem to be driven more by bad taste rather than creativity, and it’s so unfortunate. Unicef did well for quite a few years in getting trick-or-treaters to collect on their behalf, but that has largely faded because of collectors being robbed and other problems.

Halloween, and Devil’s Night, which is observed by some the night before, have long been dreaded by police and fire departments in many parts of North America. In a growing number of communities the decision has been made to “just say NO.” Halloween is not allowed to happen. That seems a bit extreme, but so are the folks who seem determined to make a buck off the misery of others.

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Roger Currie is a writer, storyteller, voice for hire, observer of life on the Canadian prairies, and can be heard on CJNU 93.7FM in Winnipeg.