I can remember one year, when I was in elementary school, Sparks had the Jack’s Carnival Parade in late September. The parade led to Deer Park, where a full-blown carnival was ongoing for the rest of the day. The Jack’s Carnival was the yearly fund-raiser for all the participating schools. It was also the unofficial preview for all the kids as to their Halloween costume choice.
I remember that I wanted to be a soldier so I wore my dad’s old Army helmet, backpack and pistol belt. I carried some sort of “weapon” to simulate a soldier’s rifle. That parade was a watershed in my life in that at the end of that parade route, I had decided to never be an infantry soldier. The reason was that all that gear was heavy, unmanageable and seemingly useless anyway. In reality, I flew helicopters and hauled the grunts around instead of being one.
The best part about all those costumes back when is that they were all free. Kids made them up out of stuff they found at home. There weren’t any of the costume shops like they have today with the myriad of rubber scare-the-bejesus-out-of you latex contortions for the inexpensive price of $29.99 plus tax. Part of the fun was figuring out what kind of mask you could make out of what you had available to make it with. I assure you, we were all very scary in everything we ever conjured up. At least, we all managed to scare ourselves anyway.
Halloween, at least in Reno and Sparks, is usually cold. I’ve seen a foot and a half of snow on the ground at Halloween. When it’s that cold, it’s pretty hard to get into the trick-or-treat scene when you’re a little guy or even a big one, for that matter. Most people now go to Halloween parties. They’re indoors and more conducive to creature comfort (no pun intended). Although, after a short while walking around with a second head growing out of your shoulder, you do feel a little childish and a bit stupid for having spent upwards of $100 for that ridiculous getup you’re wearing as well.
The next day, you feel like the broken shards of pumpkin you find along side the road from someone’s jack-o-lantern that met an untimely end during the night, especially if you have had too much Halloween cheer the previous evening while you were scaring the captive ghouls present at the party.
If you do have little ones that will be going trick-or-treatin’, be sure to bundle them up for the evening chill. Also, you might have some hot chocolate or some other warming beverage available for the little ones when they get home. If you have real little ones, you should go out with them as well to ensure their safety. Also, when you get home with your booty, check it out for foreign objects that might be injurious to little ones.
If it happens that there is school the next day, please do not let Johnny take all his loot to school. That loot is a source for no end of heartache the next few days at school as everyone wants it and there really is no need for all that sugar junk at school. It’s disruptive to what goes on in school and totally not necessary either.
Since Halloween is also Nevada Day, the day Nevada was admitted into the Union, everyone should also sing a few rounds of our state song, “Home Means Nevada,” as we drink our hot apple cider and warm up. Be safe and have fun!
Larry Wilson is a 50-year resident of Sparks and a retired elementary school teacher. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.