Lake Street Halloween

By Louise Ure


The longer the war goes on, the more baby George Washingtons I see and the fewer Power Rangers. More infant Ben Franklins. More tiny Paul Reveres. I think that’s a good thing, searching our own history for superheroes.

Halloween has always been a big deal here on Lake Street. In a landscape of calf-aching hills, the street is flat. In a neighborhood shrouded by fog, it’s well lit. In a city where one-car garages rent for $1000 a month, these people own whole houses.

Now, don’t go thinking I’m landed gentry. I bought my place long before housing prices in San Francisco got as high as the cost of a good size island in the rest of the world.

We had over a thousand trick-or-treaters last year. They bus ‘em in.


Some, like the young Russian couples in the neighborhood, are still new to the custom. “Our first Halloween!” the parents say, voices still thick with the muddied sound of Leningrad. The parents do most of the trick-or-treating; the kids sit bug-eyed in their strollers, victims of fatigue, sugar and the weight of Washington’s powdered wig.

Others know the drill all too well. The parents laze in their idling Lexus at the curb and release the children at each lit doorway, all of them too lazy to even walk from door to door. These are the little girls in the hooker costumes. The boys with all too real machetes stained with food coloring.

We learned long ago to set up a candy station on the front porch. No way I’m going up and down two flights of stairs four hundred times a night.

It’s become a neighborhood affair now, with a dozen houses on our short block hosting garage parties and handing out wine or hot cider to the adults. The children march three abreast down the sidewalk, as far as the eye can see.


We light lavender and sage smudge sticks to drive away demons, then offer sweets to draw them in.


David, from next door, is in charge of jack o’lanterns, and purposely seeks out the most misshapen gourds he can find. He wears a Freddy mask that looks like his face has melted. Kids approach him with caution.


Around the corner, the pickings are better than our Cost Co mini candy bars. Robin Williams lives a couple of blocks away and used to come to the door and do a short skit when kids rang the bell. Now his bodyguards answer the door and hand out the treats. His signature gift is a glowstick necklace, and watching the kids leave his house is like seeing a swarm of fireflies come into sight.

One year he got PC on us, and handed out toothbrushes as treats. You could hear the banshee wails from a block away. I thought they’d string him up with his own dental floss.


Sharon Stone used to live down the street, too. She gave away Godiva chocolates. The one Halloween she couldn’t be home, she left a wheelbarrow of them in front of the gate. They didn’t last long.

I’m never au courant with the costumes. Years ago, when a young Harry Potter wanted me to guess his disguise, I asked if he was an MBA. Every super hero I greet meets me with a disdainful, “No! I’m a Something-You’ve-Never-Heard-Of Man’!”

The six-foot phallus was last year’s biggest surprise. The bloody dentist, with pliers in his hand and a pile of red-stained teeth on a tray, was the scariest. Thank God there are still plenty of Bumble Bees and Fairy Princesses.

I understand this year there’s going to be a run on Ricky Bobby costumes from Talladega Nights. Oh my.


Tell me fellow revelers, how do you spend your Halloweens? Do you have a favorite costume in your past, or a favorite treat?  I know you have a favorite trick someplace back there.

16 thoughts on “Lake Street Halloween

  1. pari

    I always pretended to be a gypsy; it was the only time of the year that I could wear my mother’s dangling earrings with her permission.

    The gypsy motif was very important to me as a kid. I have a vivid memory of being three and putting on two wide half slips, one on my waist, the other off the shoulders. I put on an old 33 of Bela Bartok and danced throug the house.

    Our Halloweens are getting a bit dismal around here. Parents do drive their kids to our neighborhood, too. One girl who lives down the street used to fiddle for her treats. But now, people are scared their darlings will be poisoned or pedophiled and the numbers have dropped off.

    My kids remain mercenary though. They’ll be raking in the candy tomorrow night.

  2. Louise Ure

    Shaz, the UK version sounds much more lethal. I think I’ll stick to the blander version of mugging that we have here on Halloween.

    And Pari, you are a perfect gypsy! I can picture that two-slip costume, your lips rouged and your eyes ringed with kohl. Wonderful!

  3. billie

    Last year we went trick-or-treating on horseback – this year it’s more of a stay-at-home holiday, although the kids will likely throw on something wild and go to the 6-8 houses they can walk to from here.

  4. Louise Ure

    Trick or treating on horseback sounds like my kind of holiday. Reminds me of the Halloween hayrides we took as kids in Arizona.

  5. billie

    This morning was very spooky – when I went out to feed, the fog was literally rolling across our back paddock and field, toward the sun, disappearing into the shadows of the forest.

    I’ve never seen it do that before.

  6. Louise Ure

    Spooky halloween fog, billie. But beautiful, I’ll bet.

    And Patty, I’m guessing that you were a fairy princess under that coat. Or an MBA.

  7. Elaine Flinn

    Alas, I live in a gated community with few kids and really miss all fun. But before we moved (from another gated community with loads of kids) I dressed up each year as a witch and had a ball handing out what seemed like hundreds of Almond Joys.

    Okay, out there – stop laughing and thinking ‘A witch? How appropriate.’ I know who you are, and where to find you. 🙂

  8. JT Ellison

    Glenda, I think her name is. If you can stand the syrup, Elaine ; )

    I LOVE Halloween. Favorite holiday. I bought several vampire and ghost books yesterday which were delivered, have a pumpkin the size of Atlantis, and will hand out treats to the 70-100 kids that stroll through the neighborhood. It’s still a big deal here. Thank goodness.

    What I won’t be doing is leaving the house after dark. I have accidents on Halloween. Nasty ones. So I prefer to watch the revels from afar, so to speak.

  9. Fran

    My favorite Halloween costume was when I was, oh, 20 months pregnant. Okay, only eight, but I was huge and tired of it, so I turned myself into a homeless lady. No planning and it looked great. Since I was the only one not drinking (obviously), I was the one who went on booze and ice runs. A convenience store clerk said my costume was great but “you know, you got that baby too high. Pregnant ladies carry babies lower.”

    Imagine his surprise when I yanked the sweaters and shirts aside and showed him a huge expanse of pregnant tummy.

    “I don’t think I can move it right now. And you wouldn’t want me to…would you?”

    Scariest Halloween HE’D ever had!

  10. a Paperback Writer

    Halloween is still a big deal in Salt Lake City — thank heaven!Unfortunately, I live on a street with a steep hill, the lower part of which is taken up with a church and a parking lot. This means that while streets 2 blocks away are mobbed with children, I get roughly a dozen kids each year.The school where I teach had to give up letting the kids dress up years ago when gangs moved into the neighborhood; it’s no longer safe to let kids dress up for school. this also means the teachers can’t dress up, so I have to settle for bringing a wand and a badge that says “blending in with you muggles.”I love dressing up in costumes and thoroughly miss being able to do it.


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