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Halloween traditions from Texas to Maine

As the weather turns colder by the day, and the autumn leaves start to fall from the trees, pumpkins are out on front porches, ghosts hang in trees, and it just reminds me of all the great Halloweens I have had in my life. 

Let’s go back to the year 2008. I was on drumline in high school and one of the football games we were playing at was Halloween night. While most of us in band loved it, we were all a little bummed we were going to miss it. Little did we know, we had parents who planned to start a new tradition. 

On Oct. 31, 2008, the three buses hauling sweaty band students from the football field 20 minutes away pulled up to the school to see the greatest surprise of the season. More than a dozen cars were lined up through the parking lot with the trunks open for trunk-or-treating. 

Trunk-or-treat is a form of trick-or-treating where people volunteer their cars in a central location for children to go from trunk to trunk seeking candy as if they were going door-to-door.

While we weren’t children, we still needed a bit of fun on the spooky holiday. My parents even set up our family’s firepit and packed ziplock bags with the makings for s’mores. 

It was amazing to see all of my bandmates’ faces light up with joy. While we didn’t get to dress up in costumes, we all got to have fun getting candy, making s’mores, and just enjoying the holiday with friends and family. 

I called the school this week and found out that 11 years later, the tradition still holds true at Elkins High School in Missouri City, Texas. Current band director Chad Collins was not available for comment as he was preparing the students for a competition, but did say in an email that they do the trunk-or-treat after the game closest to Halloween. 

Now, let’s go back to last year — my first year participating in trunk-or-treat as a trunk owner in Grand Isle. 

The event began around 5 p.m. last year, on a cloudy evening with the threat of freezing rain in the air. Being homesick from Texas, I decided to do a Dia de los Muertos theme and bring some Latin culture to the Valley. Everyone I saw, for the most part, thought I was a skeleton. Only one child said I was from “Coco,” the Disney movie about Dia de los Muertos. He ended up being the little brother of my boyfriend, but I think it still counts.

The rain started shortly after I had set up. I took Joey, my 11-year-old golden retriever, with me in her peacock costume. She didn’t want to get out of the car. 

As the rain started to pour harder, the rain water ran off the roof, splattered onto my car and puddled at the back where the trunk was. So, you guessed it, I spent the remainder of the evening standing in a freezing puddle in my soaked vaquero (cowboy) boots handing out candy to kids who didn’t even know what I was. 

It was a blast.

All the kids were so happy that I barely felt my toes go numb. Laughter and smiles were all around and the organizer even brought me more candy when I was out. After the trunk-or-treating was over, we moved inside where there was a costume contest and a haunted house. 

I got to wear two hats that night, so to speak. I was there as a reporter to cover the event, but most of all, I was there as a participant to make the children’s Hallloween just as special as my parents made it for us growing up. 

I plan to do the trunk-or-treat again this year in both Grand Isle on Oct. 27 and Madawaska on Oct. 31. This year, my theme is from Disney’s “Hocus Pocus.” I hope to see many children there. Unlike Winifred Sanderson, I actually like kids. 

Morgan Mitchell is the Madawaska reporter for the St. John Valley Times and Fiddlehead Focus, as well as the central Aroostook weeklies and TheCounty.ME.

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