The Problem with “Trunk or Treat”

Readers? Have you heard of “Trunk or Treat”? It’s the growing trend of celebrating Halloween in a parking lot. (Woo hoo!) Folks fill up their trunks with candy and drive to a designated spot. Kids go car to car, collecting booty. As Wikipedia explains Concerned parents see it as safer for their children, while other parents see it as an easier alternative to walking the neighborhood with their kids….

The problem is that Halloween is ABOUT kids walking around the neighborhood, especially when they get old enough to go out with just their friends. Think about it: They dress up like grown-ups. They take to the streets. They encounter the scariest possible locals (witches, goblins) at the scariest possible time: night. The whole thing is dress rehearsal — literally! — for adulthood.

Trunk or Treat takes all that away. It assumes the holiday is simply about amassing free food. Trunking (which sounds dangerously close to twerking!) also subtly suggests that kids are in peril walking up to any neighbor’s porch. This reinforces the community-killing idea that kids aren’t ever safe outside the home, school, or supervised program. Sure, it’s “communal” to hold a Trunk event, and even fun. But because it is so removed from regular life, it doesn’t translate into, “Now that I’ve walked all around my neighborhood, I think I’ll walk over to Gabe’s house to play.” It’s just another adult-led activity. It reminds me of the way a single, official “Walk to School!” day  makes the idea of kids walking to school EVERY day seem odd, and even dangerous: What happens when there’s not an adult volunteer (with balloons) on every corner?

So while I don’t think there’s anything really wrong with a Halloween party or even a Trunk deal, I do worry that the practice may gradually take over from “real” Halloween. That’s scary. – L.

Trunk or treat! Trunk or treat! Let's avoid  each house and street!

Trunk or treat! Trunk or treat! Let’s avoid each house and street!

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