Why I Take My Kid Trick or Treating in Someone Else's Neighborhood

trick or treatingI have a confession to make. For the past eight years, I've committed a serious sin every October, and I'm about to do it again. Every Halloween, I take my kid to another neighborhood to trick or treat.

It's called neighborhood hopping, and from the way a mom sounded off to Dear Prudence this week in a column that's gone viral (thanks in no small part to Prudence's no-nonsense answer), it's one of those Halloween no-nos that divides parents right down the middle. Living in a rich area, the question writer bemoaned the habit of kids from "less fortunate" areas being driven to her neighborhood to load up on treats ... forcing her to pay for candy for strangers' kids


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Now, I should make it clear that I'm not destitute. And perhaps that will make my sin of driving my child to another town to get some free candy that much worse in some folks' eyes.

Why, you may ask, should folks in the "good" part of town have to foot the bill for kids like mine?

Well, let's get one fact out of the way: no one HAS to foot the bill for my kid's candy or anyone else's on Halloween. If you don't want to participate in community festivities, the answer is pretty simple: leave your porch lights dim and hide in a back bedroom. It's what plenty of folks do, including most of the folks in my small neighborhood. 

People just don't seem to be "into" Halloween where I live, giving my daughter very few chances to climb someone's porch and practice her best "trick or treat!"

To further complicate matters, we live in a rural area without sidewalks. Moving from house to house means driving, parking, taking her into a house, then going back to the car, driving, parking, and so on. It's a hassle for me, but also makes me uneasy considering the high risk of a child being hit by a car on Halloween.

So it was an easy decision for me to do the very thing that seems to upset folks like the woman who wrote to Dear Prudence this week complaining.

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I drive 10 minutes away from my neighborhood to another town so my daughter can trick or treat in a safer area where the homes are close together for convenient walking, and the fire department brings out its trucks to light the streets to enhance safety. I drive 10 minutes to a neighborhood that's known for trick or treating, meaning drivers are on alert to move more slowly and extra parents are always looking out for one another's kids. I drive 10 minutes away from my neighborhood because this other town actually rolls out the welcome mat for kids, giving my daughter the "fun" Halloween that she wouldn't get if we stayed right around our house.

And I don't feel guilty. Not in the least bit.

When I first started doing it, I didn't even think twice about the decision. I actually grew up on a dead end road populated mostly by second homeowners. We had no place to trick or treat in our "neighborhood," so my parents drove us 10 minutes away -- to the very town where I now take my daughter. I guess you could say neighborhood hopping is in my blood.

But there's one more thing that makes driving one town over on Halloween so easy for me to do.

It's the way the people in that town treat my kid and every other kid we see on Halloween. They throw open their doors. They take photos of the costumes. They smile. They laugh.

Unlike the disgruntled tightwad complaining to Dear Prudence, the people in the town where I trick or treat let parents like me and kids like mine know that what they care most about on this one day of the year is not money or where you get your mail, but that theirs is a community where childhood is cherished, where they want to create good memories for little ones.

A year ago, after I started seeing "neighborhood hopping" complaints online, I even asked several of the homeowners how they feel about the influx of visitors from other towns. Their answers were all pretty much the same: the more, the merrier. Halloween is their town's time to shine and their chance to give something to our children.

And if they want to go on over to my neighborhood, my husband will be waiting with a light on and a bowl of candy ... no need to show proof of residence. 

How do you feel about neighborhood hopping? Is it rude or do you just want the kids to have a good time?


Image © iStock.com/Jani Bryson

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