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 zkteydsidh
:  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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95 Responses to The Problem with “Trunk or Treat”

  1. Jennine October 14, 2013 at 10:51 am #

    Absolutely! Finally a rational thought about Halloween!

  2. vjhr October 14, 2013 at 11:00 am #

    I could not agree more. I talked to a mom the other day who said her 2nd grader has never even BEEN neighborhood trick-or-treating because they ONLY go to hand-picked trunk-or-treat events. You can only build neighborhood relationships if you DO THINGS in your neighborhood with your neighbors.

  3. Elizabeth October 14, 2013 at 11:04 am #

    Plus, aren’t they always telling kids not to go take candy from strangers in cars for fear of abduction? And now we’re going to tell them they *should* go take candy from strangers’ cars? Riiiiiight, that makes lots of sense.

  4. gap.runner October 14, 2013 at 11:05 am #

    The base where I work does both traditional trick or treating and a trunk or treat. Kids go around to the houses and apartments in the on-base housing area. But other Americans who live off the installation can bring their cars and park near the housing area for a trunk or treat. The local Germans don’t celebrate Halloween or do trick or treating, so this is a way for the Americans who live off base to get involved in the Halloween fun. Most of the kids actually go around on their own, except for the really tiny tots. From what my son has told me, about 75% of the trick or treating is door-to-door and the other 25% is the trunk or treat.

  5. Brenda October 14, 2013 at 11:05 am #

    I had a conversation about this yesterday. Kids learn while doing even the smallest bits of independence and exploring. Trunk or treat (while I can imagine decorating an awesome trunk!) does not offer the same experience. Where would life be without the stories we all tell from halloweens and trick or treating – “hey remember the time we changed and went back out?” or “remember the time you spilled all your candy running from the house with the special effects?”

  6. amy huckaby October 14, 2013 at 11:07 am #

    Our local cub scout pack holds a trunk or treat near Halloween, in conjunction with the October pack meeting/costume contest. Parents decorate their trunks and after the meeting, the kids quickly make their rounds in the school parking lot. It certainly isn’t intended to replace neighborhood trick-or-treating.
    We live in a town full of neighborhood trick or treating. The complaints around here are the usual two: Halloween is devil worship and/or my child can’t handle candy.

  7. jenlauell October 14, 2013 at 11:09 am #

    That’s just weird. My 10 year old is very much looking forward to going with her friends this year. The past few years she’s gone with a group of friends and they’ve run a few houses ahead so as not to seem like they are with the lame grown ups and smaller siblings. This year they know the routes, they’ve got their manners down pat, and they know when they have to be home. I think they’re good.

    I would disagree a bit with the walk to school comment though, as I’ve noticed that after our walk to school day more kids do walk, even without adult supervision, as they are more aware of other kids on their street that they could walk with. I find lots of people in our area want their kids to walk, just not alone. Finding a buddy solves that for many.

  8. QuicoT October 14, 2013 at 11:12 am #

    Holy. Cow!

    I read this blog every day. I didn’t think I had it in me to be shocked any more. But this. This is shocking!

  9. Laura October 14, 2013 at 11:13 am #

    I’ve never even heard of this, thankfully. But, we have parents who take their kids to the shoppig malls and go store to store. it’s beyond ridiculous. And, I don’t understand why so many parents think trick-or-treating around their neighborhood is dangerous. For all the scare stories of poisoned candy or razors and needles there has never been even one reported. It’s just a scary story.
    We have a lot of immigrant families from China and India in our neighborhood and I’ve had to do a lot of explaining about Halloween (and other American traditions) and safety concerns always come up. I’ve had many mothers tell me they were glad we talked about, I was able to put their mind at ease.
    I’ve also suggested your book and blog too. They’ve loved it!

  10. Gary October 14, 2013 at 11:18 am #

    Halloween is the devil (pun intended) for HM’s and HP’s, THIS is their boogeyman (pun unintentionally intended but appropriate).

    It is like the end of the world for them…

    When I was a kid this was everything awesome rolled into one.

  11. Sara October 14, 2013 at 11:22 am #

    Obviously not a parent to any special need children. Trunk or treat is important part of my family as it is the best way for my kiddos to enjoy the Halloween process without my 6 yr old with autism having major sensory issues. My 1 yr old who has health issues this is a great way for us I let him take part in something little without keeping him out going door to door with his feeding machine. I believe his is a good program for those who prefer it. Heck even without special needs some smaller children enjoy this better.

  12. Emmanuelle Works October 14, 2013 at 11:25 am #

    I would agree with you, but am still hopeful it won’t replace the real thing. My kids’ school organizes this the weekend before Halloween as a fundraiser. They also welcome neighborhood kids who do not attend our school and even have a haunted house. To me, this is so much more positive than the schools that don’t even allow scary costumes. We still also have a big neighborhood Halloween on Oct. 31. The real, traditional one. And there are famous free Haunted Houses. This year, our family is having our first Halloween party with haunted house and treasure hunt for candies, in the backyard, after dark. Basically, Halloween wins hand down in the Best Holiday category for our 6year-olds and most of their friends. And not because of the free candies 🙂

  13. wesleyjeanne October 14, 2013 at 11:32 am #

    We live in a rural area with very few traditional neighborhoods. Trunk or Treat is helpful for us simply because we don’t have enough neighbors close enough for it to feel like a real Halloween. In our case it’s not a safety issue so much as the logistics of the place.
    That said, my kids this year have asked if they can go to the one good trick-or-treat neighborhood in town so they can have the “real” experience. Luckily the residents of that neighborhood understand the area and aren’t bothered by non-residents coming by.

    I quote your book all the time when I hear parents worrying aloud over the safety of trick-or-treat.

  14. maggie October 14, 2013 at 11:35 am #

    We do trunk or treat to amass the free candy, then we trick or treat in the big neighborhood that gives it the good stuff. No one in our neighborhood gives it candy or decorates our dresses yup or anything. Luckily for us we already know our neighbors and soak to the often.

  15. Jennifer October 14, 2013 at 11:38 am #

    We do have “Trunk or Treat” in our town though we have never participated. We are lucky enough to live in a great neighborhood community ideal for walking door to door. We love it.

    Most of our town however, has no sidewalks and few street lights. Houses are far apart on twisting back roads. Trick or Treating is logistically not possible. “Trunk or Treat” is the only viable option.

    And *that’s* what bothers me. Why do I live in a town where it is impossible to walk your neighborhood? Where, in many cases, there is no “neighborhood”. How do you build community when the community has no infrastructure to support community building.

    Very frustrating.

  16. Snow October 14, 2013 at 11:47 am #

    Trunk or Treat seems to be mostly a church thing where I live. If you are a church person, you do trunk or treat, if you are not a church person you do trick or treat. If you live in the middle of nowhere you either drive to a church for trunk or treat or to a neighborhood to trick or treat. My neighborhood is great, it’s a subdivision in a rural area, meaning there are about 500 homes in the community and we are surrounded by farms. The older kids walk around by themselves and younger kids go with parents or older siblings and I usually wander around too, because many of the neighbors have a habit of handing out ‘adult beverages’ to the parents. 🙂 Several people have firepits out in their driveway and have blazing fires going and you can stop and roast marshmallows and there are quite a few houses that are really decorated and have scary music blasting. My neighborhood really lets loose for Halloween!

  17. Gary October 14, 2013 at 11:48 am #

    If it is being done due to logistical obstacles as some have mentioned then I do not think it is bad, when it is done however for the “boogey-woogey” effect, then yes, it is a problem.

  18. Mary October 14, 2013 at 11:58 am #

    Even the phrase “trunk or treat” makes me roll my eyes. UGH. Give me the good old days, when it was totally okay to go door to door in your neighborhood (or, God forbid, an UNFAMILIAR one!) to collect treats and show off your costume. It’s unthinkable in some areas to do that, not because it’s actually dangerous, but because of that pervasive “It’s just not safe anymore” attitude.

    Huh. Collecting candy out of the trunks of cars in a nice, safe parking lot. Sounds like SO much fun.

  19. oncefallendotcom October 14, 2013 at 11:59 am #

    Sounds almost like those church alternatives to me.

    When I was young my church held one and it was suggested we dress up as our favorite Biblical character. I dressed as Satan 🙂

  20. mamadee October 14, 2013 at 12:06 pm #

    Seriously? I’ve never heard of this but I can assure you that my kids will always “risk their lives” to go door to door. I think that it helps them get a feel for people…especially those that we don’t know well and it probably makes them more likely to ring a doorbell and ask for help if they ever need it because they are familiar with our neighbourhood.

  21. Stephanie October 14, 2013 at 12:06 pm #

    That reminds me, I need to see if my oldest has started asking friends about trick or treating together. She found some friends while out with us last year, but it would be nice if she could just start out with some friends this year.

  22. Stephanie October 14, 2013 at 12:07 pm #

    We do both – Trunk or Treat at my daughter’s preschool. It’s fun because everyone decorates their trunks. It’s this Friday night. Then we’ll do actual Trick or Treating on Halloween night.

  23. Obi-Wandreas October 14, 2013 at 12:08 pm #

    My daughter’s Catholic school is holding a trunk or treat on the Friday before Halloween, to which we are very much looking forward. It has been billed as a fun event, and another chance for the school community to get together and have fun. Never have I heard a whisper about this being in lieu of trick-or-treating.

  24. Filioque October 14, 2013 at 12:08 pm #

    Sara, we’re not talking about children with special needs here. Of course there are always exceptional circumstances. What we’re talking about is that traditional trick or treating is perfectly safe and fun for any child without physical or developmental limitations.

  25. Michelle October 14, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

    I am actually planning a Trunk-or-treat formy church, but we aren’t having it on Halloween, it is the night before. On Halloween my kids will go around the neighborhood and have fun.

  26. Wendy Smith October 14, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

    I totally agree about how ridiculous Trunk or Treats would be, for safety reasons. However, I don’t think that is why they exist. At least not in my area. Trunk or Treats are always churches using Halloween as an outreach. And since church members live all over the place, it just makes more sense to meet in the parking lot. Most parents I know take their kids to both their neighborhood, typical trick or treating & then maybe the Trunk or Treat as well.

  27. Ben October 14, 2013 at 12:25 pm #

    We’ve had trunk or treat events the past two years due to in 2011 the freak Halloween snow storm that brought down power lines and 2012 Hurricane Sandy that brought down everything. It was a way to try to provide the holiday for the kids in trying circumstances. This year back to house by house (weather permitting). Our town also has “safe” trick or treating in the downtown area the Saturday before. To me it is more of a way to generate some goodwill for the downtown merchants as it does not replace normal trick or treating. And the kids get double candy, so it helps the dentists’ business!

  28. Joanne October 14, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

    Along the same lines, I don’t understand towns that do Halloween on Saturday night regardless of when Halloween actually is. Last year a friend of mine in PA had to do all the candy and stuff the Saturday before and then on actual Halloween night there weren’t any Trick or Treaters. Another friend, in NC or TN, was trying to figure out from other parents if their town was doing the Sat before or actual Halloween thing. It just makes it much more complicated than it needs to be. That same town had specific trick or treat hours you could go.

    I get that you don’t want kids out too late on a school night, but it is one night and won’t kill them. And if a parent is concerned, make sure the kids come home at the right time. I remember we had a special bed time extension for Halloween but it wasn’t more than 1/2 an hour or so past our usual bedtime. (8:00 until I was about 12 or 13).

  29. Monica Victor Colling October 14, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

    Let’s be honest. This isn’t about safety, this is about laziness.

  30. Backroads October 14, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

    I was talking with my SiL about this the other day. She is raising her kids in a farming/ranching community where the houses are very far apart. As it is, my husband grew up in the same community. Trick or Treating was more or less getting someone’s parent to drive people around (walking just wasn’t worth it). But even that driving about held tradition. Nowadays, according to SiL, the community alternates years between a trunk or treat and traditional driving.

  31. Emily, Mom of Independents October 14, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

    Sara, I agree that it’s a great thing for children with special needs. However, there’s this growing trend of making things for special needs children the norm for all children. That is going to backfire for both populations eventually. I also believe that at some point the children with special needs need to be given the opportunity to spread their wings and become as independent as is possible.

    My sons actually can’t have most of the candy. They are intolerant to the dyes (severe rashes, very disgusting stomach upset). We go trick or treating anyway. We separate out what they can eat, then what Dad will eat and then we ship the rest off to someone serving overseas. I hit the after holiday sales at the expensive natural stores and they trade.

  32. Kate October 14, 2013 at 12:41 pm #

    I think it’s dumb if we ‘re talking about safety. However, I live in a traditional neighborhood surrounded by rural space. Everyone brings their kids to our neighborhood whether they live here or not. I spend hundreds of dollars on Halloween candy. I mind and I don’t mind, at the same time.

    I wish that just ONE of those parents would park, open up their trunk, and participate by handing out candy, instead of just driving their kids from house to house. This would also be good to limit the number if moving cars in the neighborhood on Halloween night.

  33. JJ October 14, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

    Luckily there aren’t any parking lots in my neighborhood.

  34. lollipoplover October 14, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

    I love Halloween. It’ on October 31st at night. Check your calendar. I hate when PC holiday thiefs try to hijack the fun out of great tradition with the fearmongering. I have no problem with additional celebrations but don’t sell it as a safe alternative.

    Halloween is the favorite holiday for most kids. They get to be anything they want and run around with their friends to all of their houses getting candy. This is the quintessential community day. Why do adults have to take the fun out of everything?

    I love to hear the memories they made from trick or treat in in our neigborhood. They do the famous after hours candy trading back at our house. I hear stories of the best houses, the scariest (the lady that dresses like a witch and jumps out of the porch swing!) and the one that always gives toothbrushes (duh, he’ a dentist), weirdest(sticks of gum), and the old lady that makes huge carmel apples that weigh down their bag.

    I can’t imagine the stories from the trunk and treating.
    “Did you see the pinstriping on that Oldsmobile? Sooooo scary.” “Watch out for the pothole!”

  35. Chihiro October 14, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

    My college also has a program where kids from the surrounding neighborhoods come in and ‘trick-or-treat’ in the dorms. Apparently it was really popular last year, but hardly anyone is signing up this year because kids were basically treating it like a candy hand-out and just throwing huge fits about everything. Halloween really isn’t about running around in costumes, having fun with your friends, now it’s about getting free candy. It’s sad, really.

  36. Donna October 14, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

    Trunk and treat here is usually associated with church. I think the original idea was to allow the children to participate in Halloween without the unchurchlike elements (witches, zombies, and other “bad” costumes, etc). I don’t know anyone who does a Trunk and Treat who is not a member, or with a member, of that church. But I do know a bunch who go Trick or Treating at the mall and don’t even get me started on that.

    Our neighborhood is not one for Trick or Treating. The residents would be all for it, but there are few kids and we have the world’s best trick or treating neighborhood within walking distance. It is filled with old historic houses, decorated to the extreme (Halloween is their Christmas). It is well worth the effort to walk over there – it is well worth the effort to drive there from another county – and most of my daughter’s friends live in that neighborhood anyway so that is where she wants to go. I would happily let my daughter go with friends while I hang out on someone’s porch wining, dining and giving out candy but my daughter doesn’t have any non-helicoptered friends.

  37. marie October 14, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

    Kate said:
    I wish that just ONE of those parents would park, open up their trunk, and participate by handing out candy, instead of just driving their kids from house to house. This would also be good to limit the number if moving cars in the neighborhood on Halloween night.

    That’s actually a really cool idea. Decorate your trunk and set up shop on the street. I think kids would love that–something unusual. They would recognize it as a trunk-or-treat, but without all the “safety” features of the church parking lot.

  38. Sasa Southard October 14, 2013 at 3:15 pm #

    Right on, Lenore! Trunk or treat takes the “treat” out of Halloween for the cherry, charitable, trustworthy people at home who won’t hear those magic three words. They no longer can open their door to see the heroes, villains and chefs who make them smile after a long day at work!

  39. Katie October 14, 2013 at 3:17 pm #

    Is this some strange suburban phenomena?

    Where I live they are actually now encouraging parents to walk with kids to things such as school and discouraging driving. I’ve even seen kids outside playing who were grade school age…without a parent hoovering over them. It seems like the urban areas are getting more free range, I guess though maybe not in the suburbs.

    No surprise too the picture shows an SUV. Just the type of helicopter parents who would think this some how makes sense. Then we wonder why we have an childhood obesity epidemic.

  40. Maggie October 14, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

    This is almost as bad as those “safe” Halloween Mall Crawls.

    Went ONCE. Tons of kids lined up, getting crappy candy from bored teenaged employees wishing they were elsewhere.

    We live in a town where trick or treating is alive and well! This is what Halloween should be like!

    1- Lots of kids having fun running around after dark!
    2-Great Halloween decorations
    3-People ohhing and ahhing over the costumes!
    4-Seeing friends on the street
    5-Trying to guess who that is under the mask!

    When my kids get too old, I think I’ll still go, cuz it’s fun!

  41. Papilio October 14, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

    Well, last year kids still went door to door here. Not on Halloween though, we have St. Martin’s Day (‘Sint Maarten’) for kids to gather candy 🙂

  42. Ray October 14, 2013 at 4:26 pm #

    I had not heard of this. I am of two minds. While I agree that it could send the wrong message I like the idea that I will not be interrupted by the door bell if everyone buys in. OK I’m feeling old and grumpy today.

  43. Elsie October 14, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

    People from our church organize a Trunk or Treat every year (non-church sponsored). I’ve never attended, but I get all of the emails regarding it. Last year the woman organizing it asked if maybe a Trunk or Treat was too dangerous to do since kids would be running around a parking lot at night. Apparently going to the neighborhood door to door is unsafe and so is wandering around a parking lot lighted by lamp posts with at least one adult per car hanging out and supervising.

  44. David October 14, 2013 at 4:29 pm #

    I thought truck or treats were just an “extra”. They aren’t there to replace trick or treating unless parents want them to. My kids are going to a church Halloween party on the 19th. There are horse rides, games, a big fire to roast marshmallows and hot dogs, gator rides, etc. Plus they are doing trunk or treat. But it’s just for fun. It’s not because of fear of trick or treating. Every parent I know that is attending this party is also allowing there kids to go trick or treating in their own neighborhoods on the 31st. So maybe it depends on where you live if it’s a fear of trick or treating thing. But here in the midwest, it does not seem to be that way.

  45. Linda Wightman October 14, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

    “Real” Hallowe’en was taken over long ago, when it became a commercial holiday for people over the age of 12. It hasn’t been about the kids in years.

    That said, I agree that “Trunk or Treat” is a travesty, as is trick-or-treating at the mall, and “alternative” parties designed to keep kids off the streets.

  46. Donna October 14, 2013 at 4:43 pm #

    “There are … gator rides, etc.”

    Okay, when I first read this I immediately thought “how the h^%& do you ride an alligator and why would you want to?” It took me a minute to realize that you probably mean the vehicle and not the animal.

  47. Asparagus October 14, 2013 at 5:26 pm #

    I had never even heard of this before, and can’t imagine it happening in my neighbourhood ever. Halloween here is the nearest thing to an autumn street party, there are so many kids in the streets (and some streets are famous for the adults who dress up and walk around to make it even more fun and scary). Truly, the world (or at least North America) has gone mad if this is routine now in some place. Trunk & Treaters, take your trunks and go home. Leave Halloween to the kids.

  48. K October 14, 2013 at 5:52 pm #

    I agree… Kind of.

    We live on a country road with houses zoned 3-5 or larger acres. No sidewalks, blind curves, and a fair bit of traffic. Over the years… About two people have come to our door. I take the kids to a college dorm to collect candy. Our area just doesn’t lend itself to trick or treating.

  49. marie October 14, 2013 at 5:53 pm #

    Katie, if nothing else, you are consistent. I have to ask, though, if I drive my kids to school in an electric Prius, does that prevent obesity?

  50. Goody October 14, 2013 at 6:17 pm #

    We do a trunk or treat every year at an organization that you could kinda call a church but in a very non-Christian way (lots of atheists and Wiccans, etc.) It is in addition to trick or treating, but I have to defend it as kids do get to spend time talking to people they otherwise wouldn’t. At a traditional trick or treating, you don’t really linger at the door striking up conversation the way you do standing around in a parking lot. Last year, kiddo went as Uncle Pennybags from the Monopoly game,(a banker, what could be scarier?)and ended up talking to some really dedicated Monopoly nerds. You just don’t get that level of interaction ringing doorbells.

    Another bonus is the events start a couple weeks before Halloween, so the kids get several wears from the costumes. After all the work I put into those costumes, I’m happy to see them worn more than once, in the dark.

    But yes, it needs to be in addition to trick or treating, and “safe” events featuring “healthy” treats make me want to pull my hair out.

  51. Nicole October 14, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

    My daughter’s school is doing trunk or treating on the Friday before Halloween. We are participating because it seems like a fun school activity. We will in no way be using this as a substitute for letting her walk door to door on Halloween itself.

  52. In the Trenches October 14, 2013 at 7:31 pm #

    How is this supposed to be any safer? I don’t even follow the argument. Sorry, America, but once again, I feel like I don’t even speak your language.

  53. Kim October 14, 2013 at 8:27 pm #

    Our church is doing a Trunk or Treat event the Saturday before Halloween, but not as an alternative to Trick or Treating…just as something else fun for the congregation and community to do together. Our members are spread all over the area, so it would require a lot of driving around in order to visit each other’s homes. So I think that Trunk or Treating is perfectly fine under the right circumstances.

    However, I agree with you that it stinks as a substitute for the “real thing”, especially if people are only doing it because it’s supposedly safer or just because it’s easier. 🙂

  54. pentamom October 14, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

    Katie — I’m pretty sure it’s a minivan.

    And yes, it’s evidently a suburban phenomenon. Is that particularly a problem? Some people actually do live in the suburbs.

  55. Warren October 14, 2013 at 8:53 pm #

    This is not a safe alternative, at all. Only if they have police present, health inspectors to inspect each trunkload of candy upon entry, and complete background checks, fingerprints and dna of those men in attendance. Then it is okay.

  56. Kim Anderson October 14, 2013 at 9:44 pm #

    I have seriously never understood trunk or treats. This article is great. I mean, I’ve looked in my trunk and I wouldn’t serve anything out of that back of that thing. I am really excited to take my child out this year but I’m going to a friends neighborhood because I just don’t think my neighbors like the idea of community. It’s very strange. When new people move in or I try to take holiday treats around, people won’t even open the door to talk to me. I almost have to crunch the plate in half and pass it through the crack in the door. Bizarre. This is the first post I’ve read of yours and now I must read more. It’s nice to see other real down to earth moms sharing online.

  57. Buffy October 14, 2013 at 10:13 pm #

    I did not know that one’s choice of vehicle either contributes to or lessens childhood obesity. I thought there were a bunch of other factors, silly me.

  58. Walter Alexander October 14, 2013 at 10:58 pm #

    Trunk or Treat really makes egging the car with the lousy candy awkward.

  59. bmj2k October 14, 2013 at 11:03 pm #

    I guess it sounds like fun but man,I remember when kids didn’t need adults to provide their fun. Just another nail in the coffin of kids’ imaginations.

  60. Reziac October 14, 2013 at 11:07 pm #

    “The whole thing is dress rehearsal — literally! — for adulthood.”

    I’d take it a step further: It’s dress rehearsal for learning how to cope with being in a scary situation — to handle it without panic. It’s about rising above the fear of the dark, the bogeyman, the monsters in the bushes.

    And it’s about having the courage to knock on a stranger’s door for a specific purpose.

    Depriving kids of Halloween isn’t about safety, and it isn’t just depriving them of the fun. It’s depriving them of learning the critically important skill of overcoming fear.

  61. Reziac October 14, 2013 at 11:12 pm #

    “You just don’t get that level of interaction ringing doorbells.”

    Oh yeah? Lots of people who answer the door strike up a conversation with the kids — costumes are a usual starting point. I fail to see how going trunk to trunk is fundamentally different from going door to door, in terms of whether you can just plain talk to each other.

    And there are householders who put on little one-minute plays for the kids, complete with scary costumes, fearsome sets, and interactive dialog.

    It’s not just about collecting candy, and it’s not just about handing out candy, either.

    (And for the people who give out candy corn, I still hate you. 🙂 )

  62. Jenny Islander October 15, 2013 at 12:00 am #

    We hold a downtown afternoon trick-or-treat that all downtown businesses can opt into. It was instituted for a very practical reason, IMO: the sun goes behind the mountains shortly after 5 p.m. in October and the usual dampness in the October air turns into a nice layer of glassy ice on the October sidewalks. And that’s when the weather is nice!

    People are free to trick-or-treat around their neighborhoods after dark too. Last year, we had at least 1 bear prowling through a residential neighborhood on Halloween. Children were counseled always to travel in groups, carry flashlights and whistles or cell phones, and avoid the shortcuts through the woods. And that was all.

  63. Jenny Islander October 15, 2013 at 12:03 am #

    Forgot to add: This was definitely a dress rehearsal for adulthood. We live in bear country. There is no way to keep them out of town bar killing every bear on the island. Best to learn how to cope with the fear of bears under the streetlights with armed police officers rolling by every half hour, instead of panicking on a fishing trip and possibly endangering the people you’re with.

  64. Sara October 15, 2013 at 12:40 am #

    I had never heard of trunk or treat until we moved to the midwest a few years ago, and now we see it everywhere. But most of the events are organized by churches and are held the Saturday or Sunday before Halloween. We do the one at my daughter’s preschool every year and it’s great. It certainly doesn’t compete with or replace real Halloween (which is amply celebrated in our neighborhood). And while I love Halloween and take my kids out from baby on up, I can see how with very young kids (preschool age or less) it might be more practical to do a trunk-or-treat than to do real trick-or-treating which involves lots of walking, competing with bedtime, etc. Again, I’m talking about 1-to-4 year olds here! As a parent it’s nice to have options.

  65. Paula October 15, 2013 at 4:34 am #

    After American courts ruled that mental abuse of a child is legal I am not surprised. Veronica Rose is a daddys girl who loved her daddy and family. She is right now being mentally abused by a couple who are demanding that she call them mommy and daddy. How disgusting is that?

  66. MichaelF October 15, 2013 at 5:45 am #

    BUT…then who will get to enjoy all our Halloween decorating at the house?

  67. TaraK October 15, 2013 at 8:30 am #

    Know your neighborhood, know your kids! We have gone to a Trunk or Treat event for a couple years now. The cars are decorated to the nines, they all have carnival like games and since it is in a closed off parking lot (with dinner, cotton candy and a bouncy house) it is a perfect way to encourage my olders to look out for the youngers and let them free range the event while I hang out at the bonfire with grown ups!

  68. Katie G October 15, 2013 at 8:39 am #

    Gap, that makes a small amount of sense, and I could see organizing something like this at a library or church or other place in a rural area, where there isn’t really a neighborhood or any houses near each other. That’s about it.!

  69. Melanie October 15, 2013 at 9:10 am #

    We’ve done a little of it all. If you live in a neighborhood, trick or treat is a blast. When my kids were younger and their grandma was living, we went to her very established neighborhood. The adults actually did wander around, and often chat with neighbors, enjoy offers of cold beverages, and generally have a neighborhood party. As the kids got older, we wandered with them just for the fun of it– though we didn’t supervise and they usually went ahead of us on the quest for candy. When they were little, we kept them from getting lost, taught Halloween manners (say trick-or-treat and thank you, and don’t be piggish if they let you choose), and kept the few big mean aggressive rock-throwing kids at bay. (we also did damage control and comforting when some wise-ass adult would answer the door dressed like a devil and your 5-year-old is stuck with that image)
    BUT If you live in a more rural area, like we do, trunk or treat (with folks you might know from a school or church community) is better than dropping kids off in a random neighborhood. Why? Because it is their community. They are seeing their friends dressed up and adults who took the time and effort to decorate their cars and load up on candy just to celebrate with them. And really, no self-respecting child over the age of 10or 11 goes to trunk-or-treat. So it works out fine.

  70. Sara October 15, 2013 at 9:12 am #

    Trunk or treat is a safe alternative for my kids since our neighborhood is not that safe after dark maybe you should remember that these are not the times we grew up in. I’m not being a lazy parent, I’m keeping my kids safe

  71. Timothy Cooke October 15, 2013 at 9:25 am #

    At my family’s church, Trunk or Treat is an ADDITION to traditional trick-or-treating, not an ALTERNATIVE. Trunk or Treat is on Oct. 30. Then we do traditional trick-or-treating on Halloween. We live in an extremely good neighborhood for trick-or-treating, but we only know a couple of neighbors. Trick-or-treating is the individual celebration, Trunk or Treat is the community celebration. They coexist.

  72. Dirge October 15, 2013 at 9:31 am #

    I am a single man living alone in a big house (ie, I could be potentially dangerous), but I will always have candy for any kid who wants to Trick or Treat on Halloween. And I give candy to anyone who comes to my door in costume, I don’t think there should be an upper age on Trick or Treats. And I’ll be in costume too.

    I am not putting down Mall Trick or Treat, or Trunk or Treat, but I am committed to the Halloween traditions I grew up enjoying. It’s my favorite holiday, and I will support it.

  73. Timothy Cooke October 15, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    Sara, I don’t know your kids, and forgive me if I’m wrong, but you seem like the classic helicopter parent. True, this is not the 50s or 60s anymore- thank goodness for that! It’s much safer, actually.
    There are still bad neighborhoods, true, but overall, crime has been going DOWN for many years. It is much safer for your kids to be Free-Range than it was for you to be.
    Again, there may be some special circumstances for your kids. Perhaps Trunk or Treat is better for them. But it’s more likely that you believe the media, who, empowered with the Internet, report on every single horror story about kids, completely omitting how rare those are.

  74. renee October 15, 2013 at 10:00 am #

    Per my 12yr old: That is not fun! Most of the fun in Halloween is GOING HOUSE TO HOUSE, ringing the door bell, looking at the decorations. Who would want to just walk from car to car?

    (My kids go to friends’ house for party, then into groups and run the neighborhood together. Adults trail behind because the younger kids ASK us too.)

  75. anonymous October 15, 2013 at 10:23 am #

    I haven’t had time to read all the comments, so I apologize if this has already been said. We currently live in a very Christian southern town, and all the churches do fall festivals or trunk or treat. It doesn’t have anything to do with safety in the physical sense; rather, many people believe that Halloween is evil and unChristian and so they are trying to protect them from the wickedness. I won’t comment on that viewpoint, as I think people ought to be allowed to raise their kids as they see fit, but I don’t think it’s a free range issue. These same kids are often at the park alone or with a teenage sibling, and spend a lot of time in trees and the creek, so I think they are a lot more free range than kids in bigger cities.

  76. lollipoplover October 15, 2013 at 10:49 am #

    “We currently live in a very Christian southern town, and all the churches do fall festivals or trunk or treat. It doesn’t have anything to do with safety in the physical sense; rather, many people believe that Halloween is evil and unChristian and so they are trying to protect them from the wickedness.”

    The problem with this viewpoint is when it reaches schools:

    I won’t push my religion on anyone so don’t force it onto Halloween!

  77. Papilio October 15, 2013 at 11:22 am #

    “They dress up like grown-ups.”

    Just what conclusion should I draw from this?
    1) All American grown-up are ghosts, vampires, werewolves, witches, bankers etc – in 1 word: scary
    2) All American grown-ups are dressed up


  78. Rachel October 15, 2013 at 11:30 am #

    yes, I agree that Halloween is about kids having the freedom to walk around their neighborhoods. It’s also a great way for people to meet their neighbors and strengthen a sense of community. Kids do need to understand that there is a small chance they could encounter some creepy people if they are visiting the homes of people they don’t know. So they need to be educated about smart ways to trick-or-treat.

    One year, when I was 10 years old,my friends and I found ourselves in a potentially dangerous situation, when we rang the bell of a man who was probably psychotic. He chased us while yelling and throwing candy at us. We were scared because his behavior was erratic and aggressive, but luckily, nothing too bad happened. I wouldn’t stop kids from going trick-or-treating on the off-chance that they run into people who have problems. But, I’d tell them to always go in groups, wait outside (even if invited in), and run if someone does something you don’t like.

  79. Suzanne October 15, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

    Like so many of these ideas there might be a place for trunk or treat. I’m thinking about a rural neighborhood where walking from house to house may not be practical, this sounds like more fun then say being driven from place to place. Or a neighborhood made up primarily of apartments where landlords often forbid trick or treating. At least in this case the parents will likely park themselves by their own car and give the kids the option to roam the parking lot by themselves.

    That said, I think traditional trick or treating is a much preferred option. I want my daughter to know who her neighbours are in case she needs to ask them for help one day. Heck I want my neighbours to know who my daughter is, in case she rings their door bell some time.

  80. Sharon October 15, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

    We had a building party on October 12th. All the kids dressed up and the two middle school kids helped set up and run three games. I even left my 12 year old alone and did an errand during the party. She had a cell phone and I have a cell phone.

    Most of the same group will trick or treat on October 31st. Everyone will trick or treat in the building. You can leave your door number at the front desk if you want visitors. Last year the two older girls and a little sister wandered the streets later with a parent waiting at the end of the street. All three girls ages 7-11 (last year) came home safe and sound.

  81. Librarymomma October 15, 2013 at 6:34 pm #

    Sadly, I doubt my son will ever go trick-or-treating with a group of friends and without adult supervision. We live in a small gated condo community in Los Angeles and have never had kids knock on our door for candy on Halloween.

    We usually go to my sister-in-law’s neighborhood, which is more suburban than ours, but my son doesn’t know any of the kids there (and there don’t seem to be many out on Halloween, either). Sometimes one of his friends joins us, and we adults hang back a bit behind the kids so they feel as if they are on their own.

    One year we were invited to go trick-or-treating in a posh gated community. It reminded me of what it was like to go trick-or-treating when I was a kid and groups of kids wandered around the neighborhood disguised in their masked costumes in the 1970s and ’80s.

    When I was a kid I looked forward to trick-or-treating all year long. I remember going with my cousins when I was really young and my friends as I got older, probably starting when I was 8 years old. My son loves Halloween but I feel he’s experiencing a watered-down version of the holiday.

    I’ve noticed that more and more stores carry Halloween decorations that are more gruesome than they were when I was a kid. I’m talking about zombie-themed or slasher film type decorations. I find it interesting and perhaps ironic that as the world tries to make the world “safer” for kids by keeping them indoors, it encourages them to experience entertainment that is disturbingly violent.

  82. Jenna K. October 15, 2013 at 10:39 pm #

    My church has held “trunk or treats” since the 90’s, when I was a teenager. By church, I mean any of my church’s local congregations at any given place in the U.S. I don’t think they do it for “safety reasons”, though. I thought it was more for a party and a way to do Halloween in one location with a LOT of really little kids. When my oldest two were 2 and 1, I appreciated a trunk or treat. I lived in an apartment complex, didn’t know anyone, my husband wasn’t home, and generally didn’t like the punk kids I would see out on Halloween sometimes scaring little kids, so I was more comfortable taking them by myself to a “trunk or treat” a few days before Halloween. One year, because my kids were so little and I was alone on Halloween, husband and I celebrated a few days later with some friends of ours and had the kids (all three and under) go “trick-or-treating” to different rooms in the neighbor’s house. Is that so bad to want a place to take really small kids so they don’t have to deal with being scared by bigger kids who think it’s funny? And socializing with other adults that are there?

    My church still does a trunk or treat, or at least last year they did, but it’s usually not ON Halloween. So we go to that and get candy, and last year I used that candy to hand out on Halloween because I had forgotten to buy some (don’t tell the kids–they had no idea!).

    But we still have them go around the neighborhood. I am looking forward to this year. I think they are finally old enough to all go without us, at least around our little neighborhood (ranging in age from 2-10) and then the older two boys can go a little further out, I think.

    I haven’t heard of any of these “trunk or treats” being done specifically for the reason of making Halloween safer, but the only ones I’ve ever heard of are the ones my church tends to do, which is more for socializing and having a good time than anything else.

  83. lsl October 16, 2013 at 2:22 am #

    The major city to the south of where I live, & the farming community to the north, are having trunk or treat. Those are situation where it makes sense. The one time I participated in a trunk or treat, we were supposed to decorate our cars, but it rained, so they moved us inside the church & said decorate the rooms, but then squished us so tight together that the kids just shuffled through, with no time to talk about costumes, & most of them didn’t even bother to say “trick or treat”. The last few years, I’ve worked a community Halloween carnival, & get home ~6:30, just as the Sun is setting, & the kids are all heading in from trick or treating. It’s kind of sad.

  84. lsl October 16, 2013 at 2:36 am #

    oh, I forgot to mention that the trunk or treat in the big city is specifically for homeless kids.

  85. fred schueler October 16, 2013 at 4:44 pm #

    ah, the resources of creepiness are infinite!

  86. HappyMom October 18, 2013 at 7:19 am #

    Trunk or Treats and Shopping Malls are fun alternatives for those families with kids who do NOT live in safe neighborhoods. I can see how those who have not lived in dangerous neighborhoods would think lesser of those who live in the city where innocent children and adults are shot everyday. Until I moved from the city into the suburbs, my family went to malls and church events. The last thing I wanted to was for my kids to get hit by a stray bullet from gang activity (reason we moved). With all of the pervs and others out there, we do go with our children. As they get older, they have phones and go with friends and rules. No neighborhood is completely safe, but we must teach our children to be smart and hope and pray they do not become a victim. However, we also shouldn’t allow our children to go out willy-nilly and naive. We teach our children to be wary of strangers, but sometimes the pervs are the ones they know or live right next door to us.

  87. Anna October 18, 2013 at 9:27 am #

    Who organizes these events, the government? Sounds like one of those ideas that is just designed to make us “feel” safe, without actually making anyone any safer. (The border wall anyone?) Unless getting our kids used to approaching stranger’s trunks with the promise of candy IS somehow actually safer?

  88. Oelsen October 18, 2013 at 12:30 pm #

    Just when I thought the US reached rock bottom, they find a way to blasting a little bit deeper into Bullsh*t mountain.

    Trunk or Treat. wzh

  89. Maegan October 19, 2013 at 8:46 am #

    Last year was the first time I had heard of or participated in a trunk or treat event…

    My family lives on a military post. Barracks do not have porch lights. You must be signed in/out…that’s a lot of signing in & out. And a lot of disturbing people who are not participating. People who work odd shifts, or just don’t want to be bothered b/c they don’t want to be bothered.

    The other thing on post is stairwells. 4 levels of apartments without porch lights and the hallways are not very accommodating.

    They set up trunk or treat along the edge of a sports field between two areas of regular (non apartment, non barracks) homes. People decorate their trunks like miniature haunted houses, pirate treasure chests, monster mouths, spooky caves…and everyone is still expected to say “trick or treat” and “thank you”. And people set up treats that might not normally be acceptable from a house. Cupcakes, popcorn, toys, hot chocolate, hotdogs…and I thought it was AMAZING!

    I thought it was great…and since I live in a country that doesn’t celebrate halloween, there are a lot of people who live off post that wouldn’t otherwise get a chance to greet children with candy. So they park and trunk or treat instead.

  90. TJ Michael October 19, 2013 at 9:17 am #

    I would say it is simply the result of the protests over “Halloween Parties” or “Carnivals” that people who were “offended” about them. Now you can not use the school building to do this. We had these growing up. We would go to the school one evening near Halloween and there were games, activities, prizes, etc. in the gym and cafeteria. There were spooky stories in the library, and a “trick-or-treat street” that were decorated covers over classroom doors where kids could trick or treat. It was amazing, and we did this in addition to trick-or-treating.
    In our neighborhood, trick or treating is in its 3rd year and we had police officers doing demonstrations, not every car hands out candy. But this all stems from the elimination of the parties because people were offended.
    We go to Boo-at-the-zoo in Denver, trunk-or-treat at the school, and traditional T-o-t and focus on the activities and not the candy. Plus they get to wear their costumes more than once!
    There is absolutely no reason to believe trunk-or-treats will eliminate traditional trick-or-treating. If it does, it is because of parents who are offended/afraid to take their kids out but our neighborhood is still as full.

  91. Olivia October 20, 2013 at 4:56 pm #

    My 4 yr old will be going to a trunk or treat that is part of a church harvest festival. She was invited by a friend and it’s the day before Halloween. We will also take her around the neighborhood on Halloween night. I wouldn’t want to replace the neighborhood trick or treating.

  92. bmommyx2 October 21, 2013 at 4:47 am #

    I’ve never heard of this, kind of takes the fun out of it

  93. carol October 22, 2013 at 11:04 am #

    Most people go to Trunk-or-treat and still go house to house. It is not instead of, it is additional. Often it is done by businesses or organizations as a way for their members to get together and do a halloween event. They are a lot of fun, you should go & then go door to door.

  94. carriem October 23, 2013 at 2:48 pm #

    I hate trunk or treat. Our church sponsors one, and I refuse to take the kids. Why should they walk less to get more (cheap) candy? My oldest is allowed to trick or treat with a friend this year. He’s ten. The other four and I will hoof it around the neighborhood and when we get tired, we’ll stop collecting candy.

    I know that our church community thinks we’re unfriendly, but I think it really deteriorates neighborhoods to undo one of our big opportunities to interact with one another.

  95. jfe October 27, 2013 at 2:18 am #

    I totally disagree! Trickortrearing is very unsafe. Where have you people been? There have been real incidents of razor blades and poison in candy, plus all the wackos out doing things to kids??? Parties with friends are they best.