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Art&Seek Jr: Come for the Candy, Stay for the Community

by Therese Powell 23 Oct 2012 2:36 PM

Trick-or-treating offers a chance to reconnect with your neighbors and find out about fun things happening nearby.


Art&Seek Jr. is one mom‘s quest to find activities to end the seemingly endless chorus of the “I’m Bored Blues” while having fun herself.  Impossible you say? Check back on Tuesdays for kid-friendly events that are fun for adults, too.

I was talking to friends recently about how trick-or-treating has changed since we were children in the 70s. Everyone lamented how sad it was that kids didn’t go trick-or-treating anymore and experience the same kind of Halloween fun we had as children. But when I asked if they trick-or-treated in their own neighborhoods, most confessed to taking their kids to other neighborhoods that feature the big, splashy displays. I guess these parents feel like there’s more activity and energy on Swiss Avenue than on their own street.

Seize the day: Oct. 31 is a chance to say “howdy” to the neighbors.

I love it that some neighborhoods really get into the spirit and go all out, but that shouldn’t keep you away from your own neighborhood. On my little street, even though there are loads of kids, on Halloween night it’s a ghost town (sorry for the pun) because everyone, except for Rose and a small group of friends, has elected to be elsewhere. House after house, our trick-or-treaters hear the same remark from neighbors: “You’re the only kids we’ve seen tonight!” Sure, it’s great for our little ghouls, because they end up getting the whole bowl of candy at every stop, but it’s sad for our neighborhood.

The dying ritual of trick-or-treating reminded me of a book I read about 10 years ago called Bowling Alone. It seems that over the last 40 or so years, as a nation, we’ve become sort of … well, less connected with each other. We belong to fewer groups like the VFW and the PTA, we don’t know our neighbors, we socialize less with our friends, pass up getting together with extended family, and we don’t take our kids trick-or-treating. To sum it up, people: we’re bowling alone. This trend of disengagement has affected our health, democracy and even our safety. Our social groups or communities we call on when times are hard are disappearing faster than you can say “Twitter.”

To me, trick-or-treating is golden opportunity for those of us with children to connect with the tiny community that is our neighborhood. In past years the parents in our little Halloween brigade have met the new babies on the block, petted the friendly dogs, shared landscaping tips, discovered other parents from our school, checked in on elderly neighbors who might need assistance in the future and, most importantly, we’ve gotten to know our neighbors. Even if it was just to exchange “hellos” until next Halloween.  True, there are some situations and neighborhoods where trick-or-treating is a bad idea. But if you are able, I would encourage you to grab the kids and the plastic pumpkin and take a stroll around the block next Wednesday. The feeling you get will be just as sweet as the five Mounds bars you snag after the kids are asleep.

If ever there was a weekend to be a part of a community, this is it.  The weekend before Halloween is traditionally jammed packed with community events that will make you feel a part of something. Here are a few selects:

Hexter Elementary in East Dallas is having its annual fundraiser, the Hexter Howl, this Saturday. You and the kids can grab some exercise with a 5K run or a 1K  fun run. And just so you know, costumes are encouraged, but not mandatory. After the run, be sure to stay for the carnival. There will be game booths, bounce houses, giant slides, a rock wall tower, music and food on the grill. A hotdog, a game of floaty ducks and a costume contest is just the ticket after a 5K, I always say!

Another event you definitely want to put at the top of your calendar this weekend is the 5th Annual  Fall Feral Hog Festival in Ben Wheeler, Texas. You won’t want to miss the world championship wild hog cook-off, Fall Feral Follies, or my favorite, the crowning of the Hog Queen. The Queen, who is deemed Feral-ist of them all, will win a cash prize and represent the town of Ben Wheeler during all of its main events for the next year. There will also be a parade, a carnival and plenty of live music.

The long awaited Klyde Warren Park is having its grand opening this weekend. For those of you who don’t know, Klyde Warren Park is the deck park located on the edge of the Arts District above Woodall Rodgers Freeway. Besides the ribbon cutting hosted by home town son Owen Wilson, more than 50 activities are planned for the two days of festivities. You can take in everything from a performance by Booker T. Washington musicians to a a show on “Animal Architecture” presented by the Dallas Center of Architecture. Most activities are free.

The Annual Dia de los Muertos Festival is traditional celebration for Fort Worth’s Northside.

Finally, check out the 10th Annual Dia de los Muertos Festival presented by Artes de la Rosa in Fort Worth on Saturday night.  The outdoor event will celebrate and honor El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) with live folkloric music, dance, pan de muerto, ofrendas and kid activities.  The celebration will kick off at 7 p.m. with a procession led by the Northside High School Drum Core down N. Main Street (from Marine Park to the Fort Worth Mercado Plaza next to the Rose Marine Theatre). The festivities will continue in the plaza featuring Northside High’s Mariachi group and performances from Ballet Folklorico Mexico Lindo.

Therese Powell is an Art&Seek calendar coordinator and KERA-TV producer.  She spends most of her free time seeking out adventures for her 7-year-old daughter, Rose.  Tell us about your quirky kid adventures by leaving a comment. Or e-mail Therese at [email protected].