Umm ... Where Have All the Trick-or-Treaters Gone? And Why Is Your Porch Light Not On?

Halloween is alive and well, costume sales are through the roof, but has trick-or-treating become a thing of the past?

It’s just before dusk on Halloween Night; I've got a candy bowl filled with treats and even a few extra bags unopened just in case I need more. I hear a few kids on the candy hunt already getting the night started. My doorbell rings, “Trick-or-Treat!” then it rings a couple more times, then it stops. I walk out to the sidewalk and look up and down the street.

“Where are all the Trick-or-Treaters?”

Over the past few years I’ve noticed a similar trend in the decline of trick-or-treaters going around the neighborhood. At first I thought maybe this was just me, and maybe everyone else had different experiences, but after talking to many residents from Cerritos, Artesia, and other surrounding cities most had similar experiences on Halloween.

Artesia and Cerritos Residents Have Noticed a Drastic Decline

“My house is usually the only one on the block that is decorated for Halloween,” said Artesia resident Jessica Murillo. “I’ve noticed that less and less kids show up to my house and we give out less candy.”

Longtime Cerritos resident Samuel Sanchez, who's lived in the city for more than 30 years, says he's noticed a drastic decline in trick-or-treating activity over the last ten years.

"My wife and I used to buy at least two bags of candy and sometimes we'd even feel bad when we ran out of stuff to give," Sanchez said. "But starting about 10 years ago, we noticed there's not many kids around on Halloween anymore. We even left the candy out on the porch one year and no one picked it up!"

Sanchez went on to say that about five years ago, his granddaughter even stopped trick-or-treating in their neighborhood because all the lights would be dark.

"She started going to her other grandparents house in Huntington Beach because she says they give 'big candy' bars," he said with a chuckle. "I think it's sad that our neighborhood doesn't really participate in Halloween. My wife and I used to enjoy seeing the kids all dressed up and excited for candy."

But Sanchez and Murillo's accounts were just a few of many similar sentiments shared.

It seems like trick-or-treating has just become a lost art. I’m not talking about going around the block once with your parents trick-or-treating and calling it a night. I'm talking about that labor intensive "I’ve been out since dusk and it’s past 10 p.m., my feet hurt, and I’ve sweated off all the clown makeup" kind of trick-or-treating. What happened to those days?

I hate to sound cliché, but when I was a kid my cousins and I would go out trick-or-treating and we wouldn’t come home until we had enough candy to last us until well past New Year's. I really don’t know why trick-or-treating is down. Maybe parents have become more paranoid about letting their kids out, maybe Halloween has become more about parties with sexy costumes ... or maybe there’s an App for that? Whatever the reason is it’s just not happening much anymore and it’s killing a fun tradition that I was very fond of as a child.

Perhaps a Carnival or Two Instead?

A few parents have told me that instead of the traditional trick-or-treating rounds, they elect to take their kids to city sponsored events and carnivals because they are also a lot of fun, and safer.

. Yet other parents have told me they make it a point to take their kids through the neighborhood, the old-fashioned way.

In my opinion, it seems like both would go hand-in-hand perfectly with each other and shouldn’t be a cause for this decline in trick-or-treating.

Some Are Banning Halloween? Seriously?

If you search the internet you’ll find stories about counties and cities banning Halloween, putting a curfew as to how late kids can be out, and even putting an age cap saying that 14 years old is too old for trick-or-treating. There has even been some debate in certain areas of the country as to when to celebrate Halloween depending on what day of the week it falls on. This anti-Halloween sentiment is probably a more direct cause for the slowing signs of trick-or-treaters more than anything else.

In all honesty I’m not a parent so when Halloween is on a weekend and someone I know is having a party my priorities shift from passing out candy to party mode, but this year Halloween is on a Monday and having such fond memories about a day dedicated to candy and fun that often gets a bad rap, I am making it a point to get into the spirit.

Come On, Just Get Off the Couch and Pass Out Candy!

So this Halloween I will fill up my candy bowl to the rim, tune into the Chargers and Chiefs on Monday Night Football, and happily pass out candy to trick-or-treaters in between challenges, touchdown confirmations, and bogus roughing the passer penalties. Be it two kids or 40, or a dozen 16-year-olds, or three dozen toddlers that come to my door, they will each get a handful of candy from my bowl and a smile. Come on now, it's Halloween!

So stop being a Halloween scrooge and go out and spend that $10 at The Dollar Tree on a couple bags of candy. Turn the lights on the porch, maybe even throw out a pumpkin by the door to let em know you've got the spirit, and bring back a little holiday tradition into the neighborhood!

Carissa Cordero October 31, 2011 at 07:07 PM
I try to take my kids trick or treating every year, but it's getting harder and harder with so many dark doors. The one thing that gets to me is the middle school/high school kids who don't even bother to dress up and come repeatedly to our door to get candy. Out of fear of having my house egged/tee peed, I usually give them candy. Maybe it's occurences like this that deter people from celebrating Halloween?
carlos roque October 31, 2011 at 11:03 PM
It's the wussification of america that is slowly killing halloween. Parents are over protective of their children or just too lazy to walk around the neighborhood and inspect the candy.
Christine November 01, 2011 at 12:00 AM
I honestly think that certain cultures don't bother with celebrating our tradition of going door-to-door while the little ones scream out 'trick or treat'.. It's pretty deterring to go up & down a dark neighborhood where people purposefully turn their porch lights off.. What angered me last year was that I had my son go to porch lighted houses & this one house had the nerve to turn their porch light off on him.. He could have tripped leaving their house.. Really rude - I pass by their house everyday, I can't help but look at those neighbors in a bad way now..
Stephanie Rittel November 01, 2011 at 02:25 PM
I'm glad I moved away to a friendlier city that still celebrates American traditions!
cindy November 04, 2011 at 04:03 PM
Last year I put a fire pit in my front yard, dressed up, hosted my kids' friends at a great party....when it came time for them to trick-or-treat, they only found a few houses "open for business". Very disappointing! So this year, we went to my sister's in Lake Forest where there were many decorated houses and lots of kids out. I would prefer to be here in Cerritos, but it's no fun! Yeah, there's the cultural aspect (if you didn't grow up with Halloween, you wouldn't understand it all maybe), but I think the less people participate in a neighborhood, the less will the next year...it all goes downhill for everyone.
Belinda Ramos November 08, 2011 at 08:48 PM
This year we started out at the Carnival. Kids wanted to leave rigth away to go trick or treating. Headed towards Artesia neighborhood. I would say that 1 out of 10 had candy. A lady felt bad that she didn't have candy so gave the kids quarters instead. Left Artesia and headed back to Cerritos. The participation was worse. Out of the three blocks we walked only 2 houses passed out candy. Last, we headed towards Norwalk between Bloomfield and Alondra. It was like we walked into another world! A lot of kids walking the street. Got to see a lot of fancy costumes. Even walked into a haunted house! Most houses had candy.
Michael November 07, 2013 at 01:21 AM
Walnut & DB are out for trick or treating because the recent Asian immigrants have no idea what it is. We found the coolest neighborhood that has about 60% participation in La Habra Heights, at Harbor & Arbolita. It was pretty awesome.
wanderinglady November 07, 2013 at 05:22 PM
Michael, the area around Lemon Creek Park was good for trick or treaters when the City of Walnut held its Halloween (or whatever they called it) party there. Now we just go trick or treating with my son's friends a few blocks over in West Covina. I saw a few other kids and parents from Walnut there as well.
Michelle Rouet November 07, 2013 at 08:04 PM
I know where about 1000 of them went...to Belmont Shores! We had so mant Trick or Treaters and there isn't even that many kids in the area! We went through 30 pounds of chocolate bars, and 2 barrels of pretzel packets, about 300. I never seen so many! We were out of candy by 7:45! Crazy, but, fun!


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