Halloween in Minnesota!

Now, this story comes with a caveat that I haven’t actually lived in Minnesota, my home state, for at least 16 years…I pretty much left right after High School and into the military, but I did grow up there...so all this is from memory.

And we all know how memory fares with age.

Growing up so far in the northern state of my beloved Minnesota, came with many fun-filled adventures that some in other warmer climates would never experience. Digging out forts in the huge drifts of snow the street plows would pile up at the end of our yard was one; the fearsome and epic snowball fights [Whoa!]…the frostbitten ears from not following mom’s plea to wear my hat. But the night of Halloween came with a gamble: would it Rain? Sleet? Be dry and chilly? D) A mixture of all of the above?

One such year, it snowed.

Just doesn't seem right...
Just doesn't seem right...

Now even for Minnesota this was not entirely a common occurrence. It could be very warm and summer-like some years, cool and dry for trick-or-treating. But as kids, foul weather or not -there’s no stopping the intense, ravenous desire for candy. And being gluttonous children, the desire to hoard as MUCH candy as possible on this yearly mission was something akin to demonic possession. Plus, it was fun to brag to your siblings if you came out on top.

Belly-hurt from scarfing down the mandatory, ritualistic pizza, I had put my finishing touches of fake blood on my fully enclosed, rubber mask. It was a creepy old guy with bruises on his cheeks, teeth missing, and the entire top of his head exposing a naked pink brain, with bits of cranial bone around the rim…for good detail. I felt the brain needed a bit more ‘moisture/realism’ and so I dripped the oozing fake blood all around the noodle-like folds. It was great fun.

Now I just put on some old jeans and a wool sweater and went out to meet my brother to await our ‘green light’ to go from Mom. Snow wasn’t going to stop this poor old zombie man from getting the goods. No Sir! I pulled on some snow pants [a semi-water resistant material meant for light outdoor fun in the winter] and some good ol’ Moon Boots! Yeah baby!

Napolean Dynamite...you had nothin' on me!
Napolean Dynamite...you had nothin' on me!

So there we were, my brother and I, stomping through drifts of snow up to our calves, walking in the middle of streets that hadn’t been plowed yet. The snow was coming down too fast. Crunch, Crunch, Crunch. It was exhausting work, but we were determined to make a trail to each and every door with a light on.

There were many surreal details abound that night. The hanging witches from porches trimmed with a fine layer of white crystal upon their hats and broom…grinning toothy pumpkins whose features were accented with melting snow while candles burned from within…and all manner of ghosts and goblin children with less-than-creepy mittens, stocking hats and overcoats on top of their superhero spandex.


Larry, Moe, and Mr. Pumpkin
Larry, Moe, and Mr. Pumpkin

No matter, we were filling our pillowcases with loot, and the snowbound neighbors in their homes were only too happy to hand out ample doses of sugar, just to get rid of it.

I remember it took a matter of minutes of hard trekking through the frozen wasteland that was our neighborhood, to discover my breath catching on the inside of my mask was creating a constant, steady drip of water. It rolled off my chin and onto my sweater, causing little crystals to start forming there as well. Sufficiently annoyed, I raised my mask, as I walked in between houses [The better to see my victims, my pretty!] and this worked well. As soon as I strolled up the driveway to my next target, I simply nodded my head, the mask flipped back down like a welders shield, and I pressed the magic button to sugary bounty. It was like a demented version of Pavlov’s law, enacted to perfection. I ring the bell, you give me the treat…I live to fight another day. Grown-ups were such suckers!

And so with red, runny noses and slightly tingly toes, we made the voyage back home. It was a laborious night, of triumph and glory. We dodged the smashed pumpkins, which took on a whole new art form as they literally smashed and broke apart in so many orange plant ice fragments. A shard of square tooth here, a cleanly broken triangle nose there. The dark was falling as garage lights began turning off, one by one. It was eerily quiet. The snow masked any noise which might have been the usual on this All-Hallows'-Eve. The only sound being my steady breath on the inside of my mask, loud in my ears, and the drifts of loose ice like sand as a light breeze dragged it over the hardened snow.

Brrrr.....caaannndddyyyy...
Brrrr.....caaannndddyyyy...
"Heh heh heh......Jack..? -Stay with me buddy!"
"Heh heh heh......Jack..? -Stay with me buddy!"

It was with great pride that we spilled our bedding of goodies onto the floor of our bedrooms [our safe house] and admired each others work. We were breathing heavy, our cheeks rosy, and organizing the colorful treasure into separate groups. Hershey’s Chocolate, Tootsie Rolls, Snickers here…Jolly Ranchers, Starburst, and Skittles there. Nickels and Penny’s?? An apple? What the…?! Ugh…old people!

About 5 pieces into our bellies we received the obligatory instructions from Mom. “Don’t eat it all in one night, save some!” Yeah. …I guess there was some logic to that.

Till next year, Halloween! You can try throwing blizzards or tornadoes or grumpy old people at me if you must, but you will not thwart my evil desire…for CANDY!


For my fellow Star Wars fans...

"That's NO moon! That's a PUMPKIN!!"
"That's NO moon! That's a PUMPKIN!!"

What are your favorite memories of Halloween?! Tell your tale below!

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