Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

October 30, 2013

A Halloween without snow, but still the threat of mischief and other pranks


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — What a difference a year makes. This time a year ago, a monster of a storm packing powerful winds and blizzard-like conditions was on a direct collision course with the region.

The so-called Frankenstorm — a rare combination of a hurricane and a winter storm — caused chaos for trick-or treat-times across the region. With more than 9 inches of snow dumped on the region, most towns and communities were forced to either cancel or reschedule their trick-or-treat times. The Mercer County Commission went as far as rescheduling Halloween for early November — a peculiar decision that added to the overall confusion of the moment.

The Frankenstorm is, of course, now better known as Superstorm Sandy — a meteorological  monstrosity frequently used by President Barack Obama and other lawmakers in Washington as evidence of climate change. It also gave those of us in the newsroom plenty to write about. After all, when was the last time Mother Nature dumped almost a foot of snow on the region on Halloween day?

When all was said and done, three feet of snow had fallen in parts of West Virginia.

No worries this year. In fact, it looks like smooth sailing Thursday for trick-or-treat activities across the region. No snow or hurricanes are in the forecast — and the temperatures outside have actually warmed up quite a bit from last week. And just about every town, community and county across the region is actually observing trick or treat on Halloween day this year. I’m glad to see there will be no confusion about the holiday this year.

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Not every family actually observes Halloween. Some people don’t like and don’t believe in the holiday. Some consider Oct. 31 to be an evil day. And considering that Halloween is all about monsters, ghosts, horror movies, scary costumes and lots and lots of unhealthy candy — it’s hard to argue against those individuals who don’t like or don’t observe Halloween.

But the truth of the matter is that Halloween is supposed to be geared toward children — not those adults and teenagers you see out late at night on Halloween causing trouble. Then you have those individuals who like to cut down trees for Halloween (that was a big problem back in the day in McDowell County), those who egg vehicles and others who simply prefer to cause unnecessary mischief on Oct. 31. Those are the things that really give the holiday a bad name.

Halloween should instead be a chance for young children to dress up in their favorite costumes and go door to door (accompanied by parents, of course) for trick-or-treat candy.

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While kids love to go trick or treating, those of us who are older normally prefer a good scary movie. And Halloween is a great night to take in a horror flick either at the local theater or at home in the comfort of one’s own living room.

I — like millions of other youngsters at the time — had the misfortune of growing up during the “Friday the 13th” era. And of course the hockey-masked maniac known as Jason garnered far too many sequels, with each movie becoming increasingly laughable.

Jason and Freddy defined the horror movie genre during my youth. I was still in middle school when the first “Friday the 13th” movie hit the big screen, and had just entered high school when the first “Nightmare on Elm Street” movie proved to be a box office success at theaters. We watched the movie in high school of all places — during a science class discussion about dreams — over a period of two days. That was after the movie was released on VHS. We didn’t have DVD technology back then.

Nowadays zombies are all the rage thanks to the popularity of “The Walking Dead” on AMC. It’s one of the highest rated shows on basic cable, particularly in the key 18-to-49 age demographic. I’m one of those viewers, having watched this particular show since episode one.

Those who do stay home and watch television tomorrow night can expect to see a wide variety of horror flicks on the tube, as well as other Halloween themed specials.

Whatever you choose to do tomorrow, I hope you have a safe and fun Halloween. And if you choose not to observe the holiday, that’s fine as well. But you may want to cut your lights off. Otherwise there could be trick or treaters knocking on your door looking for candy.

Charles Owens is the Daily Telegraph’s assistant managing editor. Contact him at cowens@bdtonline.com. Follow him @BDTOwens.