Ghosts, bats and spiders are appearing in my street. Since my family has lived in Bardon, Brisbane we have watched Halloween become increasingly popular in the neighbourhood. Initially I had mixed feelings about the event, a night borrowed from American culture and with little meaning to our Australian context.
My tune has changed.
While the sugar overload still isn’t appealing, the excitement of my children is magical to watch. They spend hours planning and making decorations from repurposed boxes and old sheets, but it is the freedom of exploring their neighbourhood that seems the trump card. My daughter explains, “going out on the streets dressed up with my friends is so exciting. I feel free and I like seeing everyone happy and glad”. My heart swells knowing that she is experiencing her community in a positive light, that she knows the adults living around her, and has strong connections to our area. She talks about the best curb trees to climb with her friends as they discover them, where the best places are to ride your bike, where the local dogs live. My son who is younger is just staring to expand his horizon beyond our house and garden. He is looking up at the excitement his sister is getting from meeting her community and is keen to join in, always on the lookout for signs of children to make new friends in our street.
Over the years we have gradually met the neighbours, starting with discussing what treats each gives out (everything from toothbrushes, ice blocks, lollies, water station and popcorn). The relationships have strengthened over time and the joy and benefits that come from knowing the people in your community are invaluable. I see people borrowing tools and equipment from each other, sharing herbs and plant clippings, children visiting each other and having real-time friends to play with after school, bike rides in the street, neighbours minding pets and collecting eggs from chooks, and bins being put out when someone is away. The list of every day actions continues.
Halloween helps spark these relationships and brings an element of fun to our street with ripples that grow each year, and that’s worth celebrating.
Safety Tips for Trick or Treating
- Draw a map of the neighbourhood, including what footpaths to walk on, and where the designated crossing points are.
- Trick or treat in groups, and all stay together.
- Carry torches or glow sticks to ensure visibility to cars.
- Walk don't run, and be careful crossing driveways.
- Stay on the streets, don't go inside a stranger's house.