Halloween? Not on MY Street You Don't

Bogus block parties violate the spirit of the community

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By David Hammond



Halloween is one of our country’s most excellent holidays. Much like Thanksgiving, it’s an annual event that’s focused on (sweet) food and community.


Living on the 200 block of Scoville, we get a lot of trick or treaters. This year, we handed out over 400 pieces of candy (and tea and other less usual items, which I feel is important if you want to give a kid a weirder Halloween).  I love it. I think it’s just fine that people come from all around the area to trick or treat in my neighborhood, because getting people together is one of the best reasons to have a holiday, any holiday.   Older and no costume? No problem.  I’d rather you were a kid with a costume, but I give out a treat of some sort to anyone who comes to my door, no questions asked..


There are many residents on many streets in Oak Park, however, who seem to believe that a big part of Halloween is not celebrating community but rather scheming to keep the community out.  I’m talking about residents who get “block party” permits on Halloween yet celebrate no parties of any kind. Walk by one of those streets allegedly holding a block party on Halloween. Is anyone outside grilling up some tasty grub or having a good time with their neighbors? With rare exceptions, Hell no. The street is empty. No one’s there. The party is not the point. Blocking out others is the point. And that, I probably don’t need to tell you, is not what Oak Park is about.


Now, these homeowners who choose to hold “block parties” on Halloween will say they need to block off their block to divert traffic and keep their kids safe. But what these people, in their huge selfishness, are unable to see is that they are simply diverting traffic to other streets, where other people’s children are trick or treating. On my block on this recent Halloween, I’d say there were at least twice as many cars as usual…and that’s because, on a street near ours, there was a “block party.”  We also had, as mentioned, hundreds of trick or treaters, many of whom may have felt awkward intruding on what the sign says is supposed to be a party among neighbors.


Around 6PM, an hour before the official end of the trick or treating hour, many homes (including ours) had to post signs apologizing that we’d run out of candy.  Next year, we’ll buy more.   No worries. 


But next year, it’d be wonderful if those homeowners who hold “block parties” on Halloween would shake themselves out of their fortress mentality to understand that blocking one’s street to keep out others is remarkably, preposterously and ridiculously selfish and anti-social. It’s not in the spirit of this or any holiday. And it’s not Oak Park.

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Reader Comments

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David Hammond from Oak Park  

Posted: November 7th, 2010 10:21 PM

"If you had children at home, you'd know this."Winifred, are you trying to scare me?Believe or not, I did know when the Halloween ritual started and stopped. I look forward to it every year, a favorite holiday.Appreciate the pushback.

Winifred Haun from Oak Park, IL  

Posted: November 7th, 2010 6:33 PM

I didn't realize that by having a block party on Halloween and making *everyone* who trick or treats on our block safer, we were being un-Oak Park.The block party sign blocks cars not people. We also gave out over 400 pieces of candy, potato chips, pencils and erasers,and we also ran out of treats!Mr. Hammond, you ran out of candy because Halloween was on a Sunday, which gave more families time to trick or treat.If you had children at home, you'd know this.

Stephen Parke from Oak Park  

Posted: November 7th, 2010 3:16 PM

Remove the cul-de-sac on the 300 block of Scoville permanently and those of us on the 100-300 blocks of South East Ave will never hold a Halloween block party again.North/South traffic between Lake and Madison should be shared by S East and Scoville but the cul-de-sac blocks Scovillegetting it's share 364 days a year. Yes we have 2 block parties a year and can enjoy the quiet Scoville enjoys the rest of the year.

David Hammond from Oak Park  

Posted: November 2nd, 2010 2:28 PM

Adele, I never used the word "hypocrite," and I'd never have a problem with keeping children safe. What is represented by the epidemic of Halloween block "parties" (which are frequently not parties at all)is an effort to divert one street's traffic to another street...and keep people out. Clearly, you're "annoyed" by trick or treaters and it seems as though it was the intention to make them, and the traffic, someone else's problem. From my perspective, that doesn't seem right.

Adele from Oak Park  

Posted: November 2nd, 2010 1:44 PM

I'm glad David feels justified at vilifying all us selfish, anti-social hypocrites for having a block celebration so our kids could safely play outside without worries of traffic. Didn't realize we were a secret "gated community." We had planned on several kids and families to make the rounds; we actually had several hundred swarmed our block. Most were happy to accommodate them. Personally, when I saw my flower bed get trampled I found myself a little annoyed

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