Halloween Past & Present: From the 70’s to Today

Halloween Past & Present- by Carrie Bayer

It’s the time of year where the ghosts & goblins come out. Pumpkins, black cats, styrofoam tomb stones & cottony spider webs adorn the neighborhood in anticipation of trick-or-treating. I love this time of year!

Via Country Living

When I was a kid, my dad would put our dog on a leash & take us kids around the neighborhood to get our fill of candy. There were tons of other families out & about- it was a great night for neighbors to admire the kids’ costumes, visit & get to know each other better. It was a great sense of community, though I was too young to know what that meant. I don’t really remember what I dressed up as when I was young but I’m sure I looked fantastic – as every kid should.

When Halloween fell on a Sunday, dad would drive us to our church members’ homes the night before so we could still trick-or-treat but not on the Sabbath. A few times, we knocked on the wrong door & the residents would tell us we were too early, come back tomorrow- we would walk away very embarrassed while dad just laughed to himself.

Then in the late ’70s, kids were getting hurt by biting into candy, popcorn balls & candied apples loaded with razor blades & needles– that changed Halloween traditions forever. Gone are the nights of carefree door knocking. Kids can no longer eat their loot before mom & dad inspect every piece. To me, innocence was lost. At the time, I was OK with it because I was getting too old to trick-or-treat. But I felt bad for my little sister & her friends because it just wasn’t as fun anymore.

During the ’80s, trick-or-treating in my neighborhood was guarded. Parents came to the door with the kids instead of watching from the sidewalk. They would look at the treats before allowing their kids to accept them. They would look you over, take note of your address & what you gave – they were going to come back with the cops if they suspected you of wrongdoing. But then things began to change in an amazing way.

Communities, schools & churches began hosting Trunk-Or-Treat events where families gathered in parking lots with the trunk of their car filed with goodies. The kids would go car-to-car under the watchful eye of community & church leaders. People felt safe & the sense of community was restored- how wonderful! Then malls started having similar events, stores giving away treats, an indoor pumpkin patch, even hayrides thru the corridors! It’s so funny to see a horse pulling a cart in front of Nordstrom …

In Huntington Beach, I live in a gated community & never have kids knock on my door. It made me sad at first so I would go out on the sidewalk with my bowl of candy, giving handfuls to the few kids who walked by. But where were the rest of the kids? Surely there’s got to be more than 10 kids in my neighborhood! Then I learned about the downtown festivities.

HB does an amazing job getting its residents together on Main Street, especially on Halloween. Imagine a Halloween themed carnival within walking distance from home. Bobbing for apples, pumpkin carving & costume contests, rides, games, music, food, petting zoos- everything you could ever want for your kids on the most fun night of the year. Many stores hand out candy but some give toys, school supplies, hair accessories for girls, mini footballs for boys.

Things sure have changed since I was a kid & I’m so glad they have! Once again, families can go out on Halloween night & feel safe. They can have tons of fun, see friends & neighbors while still getting their fill on treats. Things have come full circle & then some!

What are some of your favorite Halloween memories? What are your most enjoyable traditions? And what was your best costume ever? I can’t wait to hear from you!

By | 2012-10-29T05:00:34-07:00 October 29th, 2012|Community, General|26 Comments


  1. Molly October 29, 2012 at 8:51 am - Reply

    I completely agree that Halloween is a great bringer-together of community, family & friends. We started a new tradition last year that was just awesome and involved us staying in our neighborhoods and meeting our neighbors in a much more interactive way (I’ll be sharing it on Wednesday so stay tuned!). I get so excited for this holiday every year and I love the joy & heart that you have poured into it in any way you could.
    Thanks for sharing these new traditions & resources with us & for sharing how much you love this time of year! It shows!

    • Carrie Bayer October 29, 2012 at 10:38 am - Reply

      Molly, I’m so glad you enjoy this holiday as much as I do. I’m so looking forward to spending the evening with my friends & their kids. This year we will be handing out candy since the kids feel they have outgrown the trick-or-treating thing. We are going to watch scary movies, eat way too much candy & play Wii games, I’m so excited! I hope your holiday is the most enjoyable one yet! Carrie

  2. Marianne Piotrowski October 29, 2012 at 11:47 am - Reply

    I and my on friend from the neighborhood would go trick or treating all over our neighborhood. Back in those days we used the shopping bags from the local grocery store as our bads for putting our candy in. I remember one year when my bag filled up fast with great goodies. Back in my day the woman of the house used to make home made goodies, candied apples, caramel apples, popcorn balls, brownies and many other things. One year was so great that I went home 2 times to empty my bag and went out one last time. Three bags of goodies, omg, it lasted til almost Valentines day. People also gave money in those days, pennies, nickels, dimes, and the occasional quarters. I’m glad that kids at least have the safety of parties at school, or through their communities. It is a great way to socialize. Thanks for bringing back wonderful memories Carrie.

    • Carrie Bayer October 29, 2012 at 12:51 pm - Reply

      Mari, I am picturing you right now- running around your neighborhood with tons of loot in your bag, I love it! Thank you for sharing your great memories of Halloween, I bet you had some of the greatest costumes ever. Love, Carrie

  3. Neil O'Connor October 29, 2012 at 2:09 pm - Reply

    Hi Carrie –

    Halloween has been a great night for me as a kid. We had a group or gang of about 10-15 people we would trick or treat with. Mrs. Campell was amazing she would give out full size Hershey Candy Bars, we always tried to knock on her door twice, yet she would never go for it! As we got older we got a little rowdier, with shaving cream fights, and egg fights, we smashed a couple of pumpkins in our day too. Now I love seeing the little kids costumes and how they say “Trick of Treat”, how many kids really want a trick? Come on, it’s all about the sugar!

    • Carrie Bayer November 1, 2012 at 7:50 am - Reply

      Neil, it sounds like you had a great time on Halloween as a kid- bless Mrs Campbell! I agree, seeing all the little kids in their costumes & hearing them say Trick or Treat is so awesome- I love it too! Thank you for sharing your Halloween memories! XOXOX Carrie

  4. Lori October 30, 2012 at 8:17 am - Reply

    We used to have so much fun at Halloween when I was a kid! My mom’s mom made us the best costumes and my mom hosted parties for us each year before we headed out to trick or treat. We would bob for apples and play fun party games before heading out for our pillowcases full of candy.
    Yes, innocence was lost when wrongdoers started sabotaging the candy. I love your point about how communities have come together to find away around the destruction.
    Great post!
    xoxox Lori

    • Carrie Bayer November 1, 2012 at 7:52 am - Reply

      Lori- Wow, your mom is awesome! That is so cool that she would have a party for you before sending you out to score your loot. I can just picture little Lori Bristol in her adorable costumes! Thank you for sharing! XOXOX Carrie

  5. Anne Collins October 30, 2012 at 8:42 am - Reply

    Reading your fun post brought back so many memories. Trick or treating in a very small town was very safe and so much fun. Even the pranks that some of the boys did were safer. They would soap windows. Since it was writing with the edge of a bar of soap on glass, it washed right off and there was no collateral damage to the recipient.

    Our house had rules about the candy. Also, since we were rather poor, it all made sense. I ate one piece of candy a day, at the most two. So my candy lasted until spring. I saved the hard kind until last. I remember laying in bed reading my favorite Bobbsey Twins book series, sucking on a candy in January, knowing I was the only one of my friends who still had any candy left.

    It was a deeper lesson in thrift and discipline, I suppose. Deny instant pleasure, in order to have extended pleasure. I don’t remember any of my costumes, but they were all creatively made at home with what we had. I always had fun and totally loved the night.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

    • Carrie Bayer November 1, 2012 at 7:55 am - Reply

      Anne, I love that you learned a valuable lesson about being thrifty from your Halloween fun- that is wonderful! Even the pranks sound like good, clean fun. The only pranks in our neighborhood were the smashed pumpkins in the street- I would always cry when my pumpkin met it’s demise. Thank you for sharing your story! XOXOX Carrie

  6. Jeff October 30, 2012 at 10:11 pm - Reply

    Carrie or Careless as I like to call you,

    My earliest memories involve the smell of a polystyrene “Casper” mask at the age of 3 or 4. The volume of candy was amazing at that age. It seemed to last for months. The excitement of being out at night and all the energy in the neighborhood was so exciting.

    It was also one of my first experiences with injustice. My sister, who is four years older that I, had her entire bag of candy stolen by some kid in a costume. I was incredulous! I wanted JUSTICE! Where were the police? I wanted to hurt this person; physically. I might have voted for the death penalty in this case.

    Because of my monk like ways I have avoided Halloween altogether at times. Turning off lights and hiding in the house not answering the door. Last year my family decided to move out front with a fire-pit, candy and Starbucks travelers for the adults. This has turned onto the kind of event where we actually meet our neighbors. The hot coffee is a welcomed “treat” for the parents.

    So Halloween has new meaning and fun as we get to enjoy our friends and neighbors avoiding hiding of all things.

    I love you Careless! Thanks for bringing back these memories for me.


    • Carrie Bayer November 1, 2012 at 8:32 am - Reply

      Jeff, I would have felt the same way if my sister’s bag of candy was stolen- how mean of that kid! I’m glad to hear that you are coming out of your Halloween shell & getting to know your neighbors. It’s fun to participate in the festivities. I have a feeling you will be known as the cool neighbor now that you are treating the parents to Starbucks! Thank you for sharing! XOXOX Carrie

  7. Tom October 31, 2012 at 3:14 pm - Reply

    Thank you for bringing to my senses the warmth of this time of year with thoughts of Halloween.

    • Carrie Bayer November 1, 2012 at 8:33 am - Reply

      Tom, I hope you had a wonderful Halloween! Carrie

  8. Fitz October 31, 2012 at 4:36 pm - Reply

    Hi Carrie,

    Your blog brings back so many fond memories of past Halloween days. Growing up in a small town in the midwest, it was one of those events each year that would remind us all that winter was right around the corner. The weather was always a little cooler so the costumes had to be a little heavier to bring warmth….funny, though, I remember always being sweaty regardless of the temp from running door to door on the candy grab.

    Great Stuff. Thanks,

    • Carrie Bayer November 1, 2012 at 8:35 am - Reply

      Fitz, I’m sure you didn’t mind getting all sweaty while collecting your loot! Sometimes I wish I had grown up in a small town where you could go out & feel safe on Halloween, it sounds like a great experience for those who were there. Thank you for sharing! XOXXO Carrie

  9. Chuck Ricciardi November 2, 2012 at 10:53 am - Reply


    Thanks for the trip down memory lane. I to remember those scary tampered with candy moments growing up, but mostly I remember the utter joy of getting to be someone else for just a moment. My classic was when i dressed up as a girl/grandma as a 10 year old boy. I had blown up balloons to create… well you know. I had to defend myself and the honor of all girls all night long. Everybody wanted a piece! As I got older the trick or treat starting turning into more trick then treat. Pumpkin rolling, shaving cream, water balloons, eggs and even a fire extinguisher incident one year. All in good fun of course. Boo!


  10. Carrie Bayer November 2, 2012 at 3:20 pm - Reply

    Chuck, you made me laugh out loud! So now you know what us ladies go thru on a daily basis, huh? I can just picture you running away from the boys, screaming like a girl, holding your balloons steady. Hilarious! Thank you for sharing- now I gotta wipe that picture from my mind- LOL…. XOXOX Carrie

  11. Tom November 2, 2012 at 4:11 pm - Reply

    I remember my mom and dad gave out nickels, pennies, and candy. They enjoyed those times and this time of year brings back fond memories since they have both died.


    • Carrie Bayer November 5, 2012 at 10:05 am - Reply

      Tom, I’m so glad you have good memories of Halloweens past- it’s wonderful to sit back & think of those fun times. Happy Halloween! Carrie

  12. Shayna Mallik November 2, 2012 at 4:19 pm - Reply

    Thank you for sharing your memories of Halloween with us. Since I was little I would do different thing, not trick or treating. When I lived in Pittsburgh we would go to the mall and all the stores would have awesome decorations and would give us candy and toys. It was awesome. Then when we moved to Torrence there was a fair every Halloween that my parents took my sister and I too. This was the best because if you lost he game you would get candy but if you won you got tickets and then could pick your own prizes at the end. Loved this, I got all sorts of things!!! Thank you for the trip down memory lane.

    XOXOX Shayna

    • Carrie Bayer November 5, 2012 at 10:06 am - Reply

      Shayna, what great fun you had! I’m so glad that communities started organizing activities for kids where they could have some great, safe fun. Thank you so much for sharing your fun! Carrie

  13. Kari Leslie November 2, 2012 at 4:21 pm - Reply

    I remember those days in the 70’s too!! I remember that the local hospitals would x-ray your candy for free if your parents dropped by the ER. Crazy! My mom always made up our costumes. We would scrounge up old clothes. bring out her makeup, and jewelry, and viola we were transformed. My all time favorite costume was a gypsy. My mom went all out on this one! Long skirt, flowy blouse, babushka over my hair, The absolute best part was my makeup. She would create smokey eyes, ruby red lips, and a mole right in the proper place near the corner of my mouth. Then the crowning glory, I was allowed to wear her 14 ct gold giant hoop earings and tons of necklaces around my neck. It was spectacular!! I felt like a real gypsy princess, those days were the best!! Thanks for that walk down memory lane.

    Happy Holidays

    • Carrie Bayer November 5, 2012 at 10:08 am - Reply

      Kari, now I remember the hospitals x-raying candy- thanks for the reminder! I can just picture you all fancy in your gypsy costume, how fun to feel so glamorous for an evening! You’re giving me ideas for next year’s costume, thank you! Carrie

  14. amy November 6, 2012 at 4:13 pm - Reply


    Times sure do change. It’s amazing to be a part of things as they change and change for the good. I enjoyed getting my girls all dolled up in their favorite costume of the year and taking them to church to the harvest festival. We were safe and had a great time. Now that they are older they still dress up but they volunteer at the church and help the younger kids. It is a great thing to set traditions for my girls and hope that they will continue.


  15. Patricia Kolstad November 7, 2012 at 1:44 pm - Reply

    Carrie . . you sure know how to take us back!

    I loved watching my kids create costumes, and sometimes I got to help them. It was always so much fun for me. I remember that I never had a store bought costume. It was always and old sheet, two cut out holes to see and my dad’s tie around my next so the whole sheet thing wouldn’t fall off. I think I was a ghost my whole life until I got older and could by my own. Then I purchased a terrible looking old hag of a witch full head mask. It was hotter than anything, and sticky inside from sweat and drool. Yuk! Let’s not go there . .

    Now I watch my grandkids and it’s so much fun. You were right, things are so different now. We left at dark and didn’t come home until our sacks (paper bags from the market) were full.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane . . this was great!



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