COLUMN: Making the most of Halloween

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By Mollie Tichenor

As holidays go, Halloween ranks as one of the big events of the year. Over time, Halloween celebrations have changed, with a definite shift away from costumed kids walking through neighbors after dark with little to no supervision to the current emphasis on organized fall festivals and trick-or-treating during designated hours in business, community or downtown centers. This change also lessens the emphasis on overeating, since organized activities and sports, such as archery, are now part of some community festivities.
4-H plays a pivotal role in helping youth enjoy a safe and successful Halloween. Here are some tips:
Costumes, however spooky, creative or outlandish, must be safe. Be sure the costume has large holes so the child can see where he or she is going and breathe easily. Length, fit and comfort will make a costume more enjoyable, especially when worn for an extended period. Costumes should be flame resistant. Make sure any props are lightweight and safe. A princess weighed down by her wand or a knight in shining armor whose armor weighs a ton may be miserable and even sore well before night’s end.
An adult or responsible older sibling should accompany children to supervise and monitor them throughout the entire evening. Pay particular attention when trick-or-treating through neighborhoods, keeping an eye out for any unsafe or wayward behavior from other groups you may encounter. Carry a flashlight, wear reflective clothing so your group is visible, and stay close together.
Discuss appropriate behavior for children during Halloween celebrations, making a clear distinction that while spirits may run high, displays of vandalism and hooliganism are inappropriate. Also be sure children know to be courteous and polite when accepting treats. “Please” and “thank you” are never inappropriate, and in fact, are necessary. Good manners upon receiving treats reward the investment the host has made to make the holiday special.
Candy overload can be avoided by placing less emphasis on accumulating the biggest pile during trick-or-treating and more on other activities, such as pumpkin-carving and social activities and games.
Remember that an adult should look over candy to ensure that it is safe before it is eaten. After you have carefully inspected the candy, offer your ghosts and goblins the opportunity to trade in pieces of candy for coins or a toy. Even Halloween treats should be eaten in moderation.
For more information on enjoying a safe Halloween, contact Mollie Tichenor at the Spencer County Cooperative Extension Service at 502-477-2217.
Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin.
—Submitted by Spencer County 4-H Extension Agent Molly Tichenor. Source: Deana K. Reed, extension specialist for 4-H youth development.