With the ease and safety of homes in close proximity and neighbors who welcome the party atmosphere, Stapleton’s sidewalks and streets fill with traditional ghosts and goblins on Halloween—along with less traditional characters like a stove. And the adults seem to enjoy the evening as much as the kids.
Mike Holtby says his wife Judy loves Halloween so much she flew home early from a conference in Florida last year to don her witch costume, green face paint, an iridescent green wig, broad-brimmed black hat with a spider on it, and black and orange striped stockings. Holtby says kids think he’s Dumbledor in a Buddhist monk’s robe he got in China. “We sit on our porch because the kids come so often, and so many, there is no point waiting for a doorbell to ring. Our porch is decorated with a large, swinging bat over the steps, two cobwebs with purple lights, and a large spider on the red front door. We play the Witches’ Party channel on Pandora for spooky music.” Holtby gave away 20 pounds of candy to 459 trick-or-treaters until he ran out at 8pm last year. And that was down from 550 in 2014.
Kevin Hennegan says, “The zombie hordes have nothing on Stapleton on Halloween night!” When he lived on a busy street they had over 400 trick-or-treaters. Now on a “quieter” street, he still gets over 300 every year.
Kelly Petrash is trying to carry on a St. Louis tradition where kids had to “earn” their candy by providing a joke at the door—some would have group jokes, some had songs and simple performances.
In St. Louis, she says, this brought a lot of laughter and kids took pride in creating their unique joke, and they developed confidence as they presented them. But when she tried it here she got “a lot of stares.” Last year Petrash Googled “Halloween Jokes” and printed them out so kids could take them to other houses. “What is a ghost’s favorite pie? BOO-berry!“ or “What did the skeleton order at the restaurant? Spare Ribs!I” She says it made for a more enjoyable engagement with kids on her porch and adds, “Hey, kids might even like more houses to ask them to give a joke! Maybe we could promote this as a Stapleton tradition?”
Kids get so much candy Tom Unterwagner and his partner Steve Janousky wanted to do something different and special. They visit a restaurant supply store and buy large boxes of individually wrapped fortune cookies. “We give those to the kids instead of candy and they think it’s a really cool alternative,” says Unterwagner. “We also offer plastic cups of wine or beer to the adults and that has been a big success.”