Monday, November 2, 2009

Serendipity. Halloween-Style.

Last Wednesday, I posted an entry here entitled: "Halloween 2009... Whatever."

On my facebook page, I alluded to the fact that I just wasn't feeling Halloween this year. Those of you back home know that this is not normal behavior for me... I love Halloween!

After moving here last year, I didn't notice very many kids in the neighborhood I was in, none of the neighbors on my block decorated their houses, and the portion of the street I lived on was pretty busy and kind of ghetto, so I didn't see much potential for trick-or-treaters. According to my source of information for all things Minnesota at that point in time, Minnesotans didn't go to any great lengths as far as Halloween was concerned. I noticed that there were a few "haunted mazes" in the farming communities just outside of the TC, and the ValleyFair Amusement Park in the nearby suburb of Shakopee became "ValleyScare" for a week or so, and that was pretty much it.

Bummer for Misplaced. It looked like Halloween did not exist on a grand scale here.

A small amount of candy was purchased just in case I was wrong, but I didn't bother to decorate the house, or procure a costume to wear while answering the door for the trick-or-treaters... which for Misplaced is half the fun!

I'm guessing that there are kids in Buffalo's Black Rock neighborhood who still remember Halloween 2002... I answered the door as the Grim Reaper, complete with prosthetic skull makeup, and his HellHound, my Chow mix Dexter (R.I.P. little buddy), with prosthetic spines sprouting from his head and back, both done by a friend who did special-effects makeup for some of the local theatres ... That night a few kids actually screamed when I opened the door, and ran away without getting their candy from me. It was one of my better Halloweens, and Dexter was the last dog I had that would tolerate ninety minutes of having prosthetics attached to his fur... Good times... good times...


Halloween Night 2008 came, and during what I have come to learn are the peak trick-or-treat hours of 6PM to 9PM my doorbell rang seven times, for a total of fifteen, maybe twenty kids.

During my last tenure in Buffalo (April,1996 - September, 2008), on Halloween my doorbell would ring every couple of minutes during peak Trick or Treat hours, and each time I opened the door, there would be three or four kids on the porch, and more coming up the sidewalk... regardless of the neighborhood I lived in! Black Rock, Elmwood Village, Allentown... people brought out their kids! What was wrong with the people here in Minnesota? Don't they like fun?

I came to grips with the fact that Minnesotans were just not into Halloween like New Yorkers are, and my attitude this year reflected that. Why get all excited about Halloween when they just don't care about it here? I realized after the fact that as reserved as these Scandinavians are, it was foolish for me to think that I would be able to enjoy the holiday in the fashion to which I had become accustomed.

So as my regular readers know, this year I carved a pumpkin as an afterthought, and didn't even bother to buy any candy. I made plans to have dinner at a neighbor's house (Wonder Woman, who also is NOT from Minnesota, loves Halloween, and moved into the neighborhood a few days before I did.), then go home and watch TV. I had decided that next year, come hell or high water, I was going to pack up the dogs, and drive back to New York to spend Halloween amongst those who had the same appreciation for it as I.

About a half-hour before sunset, I took Roxie and Victor out for their walk before I headed over to WW's. As I walked south down Pillsbury Avenue I noticed that even though it was only 5:30, there were several groups of children out trick or treating, each supervised by one or two adults.

In less than three minutes, I passed double the number of kids who had rung my doorbell in my old neighborhood the previous year.

I also suddenly realized that most of the houses on the block I was walking on were decorated... apparently, they wait until the night before, or the day of, and then go all out. The photo above is a neighbors house on Pillsbury, less than two blocks away from my front door. The farther I walked, the more trick-or-treaters I ran into, and the more elaborate the decorations on the houses became. Looking through the picture windows of some houses I passed, I could see that full-blown parties for kids were taking place in some of them.

Unbeknownst to me, I had moved into a neighborhood that just didn't celebrate Halloween, but was New York-style Halloween crazy!

My Halloween spirit came rushing back into me, and I found myself disappointed that I was not in costume, and had not costumed Victor and Roxie. I pulled out my phone, called Wonder Woman and told her that we had apparently landed in a small of pocket of Minnesota that actually gets Halloween, and that after I dropped my dogs off, she should bring hers out and walk around the neighborhood a little, which we did. Quite a few houses had strobe lights, sound effects, some even had smoke machines! Several neighbors had firepits set up in their front or back yards and were outside enjoying the evening as well. At one point we came across a woman dressed as a scarecrow and accompanying a group of trick-or-treaters who was quite effectively freaking out the people who opened their doors to the kids she was escorting by alternately posing and freezing. The whole scene on the streets of the neighborhood was made even better by the presence of a nearly full moon with a few perfectly-placed clouds scudding across the sky. Judging from the sheer volume and ethnic makeup of the groups of kids and adults we encountered, it became obvious pretty quickly that the Kingfield neighborhood is a Halloween Mecca of sorts, and people from other neighborhoods made it a point to bring their kids to this one to trick-or-treat... just like people from other neighborhoods in Buffalo bring their kids to the Elmwood Village neighborhood.

On the way back to her house, we encountered another neighbor who had a firepit set up in his front yard and stopped briefly to talk to them. We introduced ourselves to each other, and I pointed out that I was surprised that this neighborhood embraced Halloween they way it did, and that it reminded me of home.

He said: "Oh? Where are you from?"

I replied: "New York."

He said: "Really? I am too, but I'm from Upstate..."

My face split with a huge smile, and I said: "I'm from Upstate too! Buffalo, to be exact... Where are YOU from?"

He said: "You're kidding! I'm from Rochester, and my wife is from Waterloo!"

It even turns out that Chris (the husband) is a fellow graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo, and my friend Adam's family (no Halloween pun intended) is from the Waterloo area.

Fellow Western New Yorkers right around the corner from me. Somehow, I'm not surprised.

Not only does my neighborhood get cooler with each passing day, but now I have a little connection to home right here too. I have friendly neighbors that actually talk and associate with each other. What I find rather interesting is that most of the neighbors that I have encountered here and become friends with fall into two categories... They're either NOT from Minnesota originally, or they've lived someplace outside Minnesota for several years and recently returned to the Twin Cities, and chose this neighborhood because it reminded them of somewhere else.

What I was sure was going to be kind of a downer weekend as indicated by Friday's blog turned out to be exactly the opposite.

Misplaced is happy.

See you tomorrow.


  1. Good for you Jonathan! I knew if you stuck it out there you'd find someplace you'd fit in!

    Who's "Wonder Woman"? Dod I miss something?


  2. I figured that there would be speculation.

    "Wonder Woman" is my friend Tara who lives around the corner from me. I call her "Wonder Woman", because she uses a photo of Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman as her profile pic on her facebook page.

    As far as "missing something" is concerned Jessica, I fall into Tara's "Safe Male Friend" category so save your dirty thoughts for those trashy novels you read!

    If it's because you're JEALOUS, you'll remember that YOU had YOUR chance TWENTY YEARS ago, and blew it lol.

  3. Wonder Woman is happy, too. It's nice to turn a ho-hum evening into one of very pleasant,smile-making memories. The neighborhood is starting to embrace me.

  4. Mike M. Jon Im very happy to see things going you way. Is'nt it great when you find something and it jsut feels like home. Whether it is neighbors, neighborhood, a job, a friend. When things just "fit" it makes life so mush easier.