Destination: trick or treat | News | Palo Alto Online |


Destination: trick or treat

Residents turn to's Treat Map for Halloween goodies and spooky houses

The life-size skeletons in front of Andrea Edelman's College Terrace home lean into their ghoulish task, thick chains pulling forward as if to tear the house down. There's Larry, Steve, Oscar, Bob and Tim -- and Katrina, the overseer. Betty Sue, the skeleton dog, keeps a watch over the ossified crew.

Edelman and her boyfriend, Jeremy Watt, who created the skeleton tableau, love Halloween. Only a vacation kept them from putting up decorations starting on Oct. 1, she said.

They are not alone. On streets throughout the Terrace, neighbors have set up elaborate displays, and some keep remnants of Halloween decorations up year round, she said.

"Hundreds of children come through this neighborhood," Edelman remarked.

And when trick-or-treaters set out on Halloween night in search of candy and a few scares, Edelman is making sure they'll know where to find her. She and other Palo Alto residents have marked their homes on trick-or-treating maps created by, a website that connects residents within neighborhoods.

The Nextdoor treat map is viewable by anyone signed up through their neighborhood. Candy corn icons mark the spots where Halloween-friendly neighbors will hand out toys, Snickers bars and other treats. Purple haunted-house icons indicate spooky Halloween displays. Zoom out and the map expands to encompass all of Palo Alto.

This map of sugary treasure started last year as a way to connect neighbors after Nextdoor commissioned a Harris Interactive online survey about what Americans think makes for a good Halloween. The results: safety (95 percent); good neighbors (92 percent); Halloween candy (73 percent); decorations (54 percent) and parties (32 percent).

More than 60 percent of parents take their children trick-or-treating and more than half of U.S. parents would participate more in Halloween if they knew what their neighbors were doing, she said. Nearly three in four young parents would feel better prepared for the holiday if they could plan their routes ahead of time.

"Halloween is the quintessential neighborhood holiday -- it is the perfect time to connect with your neighbors while trick-or-treating and rediscover what you love about where you live," Danielle Styskal, a spokeswoman for Nextdoor, wrote in an email. "We developed the treat map because passing out Halloween candy is one of the most neighborly things you can do, and using the map gives you an insider's guide to the best streets for treats in your neighborhood."

Thousands of neighborhoods across the country used the treat maps last year, she added. It can be printed out or downloaded onto mobile devices using the Nextdoor app.

Mike Forster and Susan Cole, who live in Evergreen Park, said they were the first in the neighborhood to put their address on the treat map. Their neighbors used to decorate extravagantly, which made their street a destination place, but that doesn't happen anymore.

For several years, the couple said, no costumed kids came to their doorstep. But with turnover, the neighborhood is again thriving with children. Three years ago, the number of trick-or-treaters climbed from zero to more than 70, and that number jumped again last year to hundreds, Forster said.

"We like having the kids come ... and we like to do treats," Cole said.

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4 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Professorville
on Oct 25, 2015 at 11:31 am

The biggest safety issue with Halloween is reckless drivers. Please leave your cars at home if possible. If you must drive, please obey the speed limits and stop at all stop signs. Look for and yield to pedestrians at crosswalks and intersections. Treat all intersections as legal crosswalks, even if there are no lines painted in the street. Park in legal parking spaces only. If you have a SUV or minivan, please do not park near intersections and crosswalks, since that blocks pedestrian's vision and also makes pedestrians harder to see by other car drivers.

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 25, 2015 at 12:20 pm

Parent - you are so right! We often drive on Halloween and are extra careful. A couple years ago a driver went nuts when she couldn't turn onto the street I was turning from. I'll never forget it because she was incredibly angry, honking her horn and yelling. Why? Because trick or treaters were crossing the street and I yielded to them, which meant she had to wait for me. We had just left our friend's house in Crescent Park when we encountered her and the area was filled with families on foot. It was bizarre.

6 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 25, 2015 at 11:07 pm

The most neighborly thing to do is to stay in your own neighborhood. It is good for the kids to recognize the people who live in the houses they trick or treat at and it is also good that the people giving out the treats recognize the kids. This is the neighborly way to do it. Driving somewhere else just because the decorations are better or the treats are better defeat the object of being neighborly. In my opinion, it should be a time to get to know your own neighbors better and perhaps start new friendships as a result.

2 people like this
Posted by Safety First
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 26, 2015 at 10:48 am

Make sure at least every adult is carrying a good Flashlight - preferably one with red blinking lights so that you can be seen. My kids love carrying flashlights too.

8 people like this
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 26, 2015 at 3:01 pm

I don't know. It seems so calculating, so over-engineered for mommies to plan out scientifically where you will drive your kids to optimize their "Halloween haul." How about wandering around your own neighborhood experiencing life with serendipity.
Plus, it's obvious if porch lights are off that a particular home is not participating in Halloween.

Like this comment
Posted by Gunn Alum Mom
a resident of Ventura
on Oct 26, 2015 at 10:43 pm

To "neighbor": I don't think this is meant to "over-engineer" Halloween activities but to invite families to come to those houses where they've spent a lot of effort to decorate their home and will be available for trick-or-treating.

I see fewer homes in Ventura with any Halloween decorations and they keep the lights off so fewer kids are coming to trick-or-treat here. Last time we decorated and bought candy and only one group came by all night!

4 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Professorville
on Oct 27, 2015 at 10:36 am

According to the CHP, car vs pedestrian fatality rates typically double on Halloween compared to other days. If you must drive that evening, please be extra careful.

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