Town Square

What hours are you opening your doors for Trick-or-treating children

Original post made by Anymouse, Midtown, on Oct 30, 2013

In the past, we've opened the door until 9:00PM. It seems the later the hour, the older the children.

I am concerned, maybe overly concerned, and that is why I brought this to the Town Square Forum.

Last year, we had more children and teenagers than any other time. The doorbell rang even after lights were off. A lot of times, when there were crowds of them, they were not neighbors, we saw vans letting the children and teenagers out.

The concern is yesterday's strong arm robbery on Hamilton Avenue. Well, if you'd like to give your opinions, I'd appreciate your input.


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Posted by Nosy Neighbor
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 30, 2013 at 1:39 pm

Thank you, Anymouse I am glad you bring this up! More children and adults? Do you mean adults in particular? The problem with so many outsiders coming in is, they really don't care about our neighborhood. They don't pay taxes here, they don't know us, and they just come here for one thing only: our beauteous "bounty"- free loot. Being in such a small yet infamous locale, this trick or treating and the vans of strangers coming in opens up an ugly prospect: are the homes here being cased up. I will prepare say, 9 bags of goodies- yet I am bombarded with ten van-fulls of total strangers. The "bounty" (lol) I provide is for my neighbors, not to feed every Tom Dick and Jose'. The fact that these people come in and I have never seen them before, don't know them, nor will see them again, makes me very nervous especially since the robberies and rocketing up of crime in the neighborhood. Are the parents using the guise of bringing their children so that they can surreptitiously plan crimes? We need to think about this. An idea may be to have one half hour of trick or treating, and as soon as it gets black dark outside, then turn off the lights and not answer. In other words, just have a trick or treat during dusk and no more. Our local children unfortunately will miss out because of the abuse of our good nature. Thank you.

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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 30, 2013 at 1:57 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Nosy Neighbors - take a chill pill. Outsiders flooding other neighborhoods for Halloween candy has been going on for decades. As a lifelong local, my family first noticed it decades ago. I experienced it in Menlo & Palo Alto. It also happens in San Carlos, Belmont, Redwood City & Mt. View. It also happens in Fremont. I don't recall crime waves during or after Halloween tied to houses being cased during trick or treating. Given that 2 of the 3 thugs from the latest robbery have been caught, I doubt that the escapee is going to descend on the hapless Palo Altans handing out candy.

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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2013 at 8:16 pm

After a certain hour, we put out an "honor system" stash - with a spooky looking note -- because frankly, we're glad to be rid of the rest of the candy, too. Most years, the kids just take some, and sometimes someone takes all of it (hopefully not the first person, but only too glad it's not on my thighs as I type this now).

We are actually gone to trick-or-treat with the kids, too, so we use the honor system then. Seems to work.

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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 30, 2013 at 8:28 pm

I agree that 9PM is a reasonable cutoff for trick-or-treating. Turn off your lights or - for security - leave outdoor lights on but remove Halloween decorations and don't answer your door.
My neighbor once had a bunch of older teens grab a huge amount of candy and run away (and this scared her), and I think this kind of behavior is more likely the later the hour.
Trick-or-treating is for KIDS, not adults nor infants. Parties are great for teens and adults.
I am happy to participate in Halloween.
The difference I found in Palo Alto was/is people coming from outside the neighborhood and often outside the city to trick-or-treat here as adults (well, usually not in costume and definitely looking for candy), something I have never seen elsewhere and not my definition of legitimate trick-or-treating. It puts a strain on the supply of candy as even a generous one may run out before local kids are treated.
Sometimes I have given out candy (NOT permitted people to grab in my bowl) and given two pieces to obvious children and one to obvious adults and infants. Candy isn't really safe to children under age 3 - and I don't believe they should be trick-or-treating until age 3.

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Posted by Anymouse
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 30, 2013 at 9:24 pm

Thanks for the input!
Yes, I am a ware of the vans, all year, I meant in my post that it always seems to be later in the evening, when the teenagers come. I always give, until I run out of candy, earlier, it seems each year.

So, 9:00, seems to be the consensus.

@Anonymous: I've only had twice had an adult come, in all the years, that I know of, and I was in shock, at this, and not in costume, so in shock I had no words, and gave the candy. I do about the same 1-3 pieces, when their SUPER CUTE, I tend to go a bit overboard on the treats. The Unicef requests I forget each year, but this year, I'm prepared.

Thanks again to everyone.

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Posted by Many forms of greed
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 30, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Nosy Neighbor, I don't blame you for not liking so many greedy children showing up on Halloween.
But greed isn't restricted to children. The ostentatious displays of wealth in some neighborhoods is also a manifestation of greed, and an attraction for those who have little. There is no problem like he one you describe in neighborhoods where homes are tasteful and restrained.

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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 30, 2013 at 10:33 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Many forms of greed - I am sorry to say that you're wrong. I wish you weren't! But I've been in many a modest home that received out of town trick or treaters. A friend of mine who owns a home in Fremont - & not an ostentatious home - was shocked when a tick or treater showed up who was old enough to have an AARP membership! She also didn't say "Trick of treat", but just held open her pillowcase, wanting candy. Sheesh!

I don't think it's always greed motivating the kids. In areas w/out sidewalks, areas that are poorly lit, & yes, poorer areas, it's less safe for the kids AND they're likely to get less candy. In other words, it's an inefficient use of their time.

I find it humorous & pathetic that people in Palo Alto are so provincial that they actually believe this is suddenly happening to them. As I mentioned before, this has been happening for decades on the Peninsula, and elsewhere.

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Posted by PA Native
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 30, 2013 at 11:06 pm

[Post removed.]

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Posted by Nosy Neighbor
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 31, 2013 at 8:26 am

In Re: "Hmm"

Pathetic, provincial? You're being facetious, Mr (or Mrs) Hmm. No one said ""this only happens here!". For your information, many of us are from somewhere else, or at least have lived elsewhere. Nobody said anything about a P.A. anomaly.

To answer "Greed"s comment, I suppose with the "ostentatious" displays of "wealth" (lol) you claim you see in Silicon Valley- wish I knew which area that was. Silicon Valley residents must be the least ostentatious people in America. Your comment smacks of "they DESERVE it". [Portion removed.]

This mass influx (and yes it is a mass) of people, who made their beds in their own bad neighborhoods to come in and take advantage of others good nature rubs me the wrong way. If you think for one second that this minor occurrence is not an open door to other opportunities for crime, YOU are the one that is being provincial. Just this week an ARMED ROBBERY. Wasn't it just a bit ago, there was another armed robbery of a couple at the Post Office? This never happens in PA and all of a sudden, it's happening.

Back to the subject of HALLOWEEN which is what this is about, I will be friendly to the kids but I am not going to be a sucker for strangers who I will never see again. [Portion removed.]

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2013 at 8:40 am

To get back to the original topic.

I think it is one of the changes in Daylight Savings Time ending in November rather than October that makes a problem with late nights.

Back when it was dark before 6.00 pm we used to get little kids coming round while still dusk at about 5.30. We used to find that most of the bigger kids ended by 8.00 pm.

Now that it is not dark until 6.30 or 7.00, we are not getting anybody until about 7.00 and if people are out for 2 hours that makes it at least 9.00 pm before the bigger kids are tired and go home.

I would like to see a return to the 5.30 - 8.00 pm doorbells. I think 8.00 pm is late enough to have strangers at my door and gives me time to tidy up before bedtime.

ps, I would also like to return to DST ending in October rather than November, I am not enjoying these dark mornings and find myself leaving lights on all day as a result.

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Posted by Peaceful coexistence
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 31, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Dear Nosy Neighbor,

Something glaring came out of your first post, which I think reflects why Hmmm and others feel and respond the way they do with a view of Palo Altans as elitist and provincial:

Your "Every Tom, Dick and Jose" remark really does come off as targeting a minority in a disparaging way. Please ask yourself why you could not just say Tom, Dick and Harry? It doesn't matter if the trick or treaters are of any particular race or ethnicity. Is Palo Alto only Caucasian, and does the city not have any residents who are Latino or black or Asian who might be knocking at your door?

Please consider showing a little kindness to the kids who are out with their parents this evening. If they are coming from East Palo Alto, as has been assumed in years past, or in the case of other cities, from other neighborhoods where people struggle economically, it is because they either don't feel safe or their neighbors can't afford to give them candy. They really can't.

This is one evening a year for a few hours. You all have so much. Can you just show a little mercy to these kids?

As for the recent burglaries and robberies, these are unfortunate, and we all suffer in all of our communities because of a few rotten apples. While someone might case residences tonight, they have cased residences last night and will do so tomorrow and the next day, etc.

Hopefully, no one will use Halloween as an opportunity for criminal acts, but of course that can't be ruled out anywhere. The police say the criminals are coming here from all over. They have arrested people from Hayward, San Jose, Redwood City and even Los Angeles, as well as East Palo Alto.

So let's please all be vigilant and good neighbors, and please make this evening pleasurable for the kids. In the future, they'll remember that people in Palo Alto were kind to them, and if a few grow up to commit crimes, they might remember your community fondly rather than with anger and suspicion. That could mean the difference between someone acting out with violence or not.

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Posted by judy
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 31, 2013 at 1:59 pm

In my neighborhood, hundreds of children trick-or-treat each year. Many are from Palo Alto, yet many others are vanned in. I welcome these "other" children because I feel like all children deserve an opportunity to trick-or-treat in a safe community. Yes, I have to buy several jumbo bags of candy, but I do it with a sense of goodwill toward children of all economic backgrounds.

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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 31, 2013 at 2:59 pm

Judy - that's what we always did, too - just buy lots of whatever you give as treats. Enjoy the costumes, the cute kids, their smiles of delight, have fun being generous!

And yes, from some of the earlier comments, folks, the attitude was very provincial, whining about nonresidents trick or treating in your area. One could take the view that YOU are the outsiders since you're not FROM this area like I am. Seriously, you m

If you're really worried about crime, read up on Halloween's more violent past, when the trick aspect was a bigger part of the holiday & lots of nasty mischief and vandalism occurred. Luckily things have calmed way down since then, as the focus is more on costume pageants & family activities that aren't destructive.

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Posted by Glassweaber
a resident of another community
on Oct 31, 2013 at 5:30 pm

To address the original question, there is no statistical data to substantiate any claim of increased crime rates on Halloween. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Given a quick google search, you can find a decent amount of statistics and police accounts that show Halloween is pretty much the same as any other day of the year for crime.

To address the off topic discussion, if you're getting bent out of shape because you had to buy 40 bucks of candy instead of 20, you've either lost site of the entire purpose of this event, or your income is low enough that you really should be forgoing the event anyway.

If either above case applies to you, the best course of action would probably be to turn off the lights and pretend you're not home. You won't have to deal with it and we won't have to deal with you complaining about it.

To me, more outsiders just means more happy kids and adorable costumes. That's my reward. And it's worth it.

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Posted by Mike
a resident of University South
on Oct 31, 2013 at 7:11 pm

It's 7:10 pm and I eagerly await the first trick-or-treaters. I don't care how old they are or where they live. Please ring my doorbell.

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Posted by HappyHalloween
a resident of Ventura
on Oct 31, 2013 at 8:20 pm

[Post removed.]

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Posted by maybe your neighbor
a resident of Professorville
on Oct 31, 2013 at 8:31 pm

Yes, there are vanloads of kids and teens from other neighborhoods and I am glad they feel comfortable enough to come here where it's safe and people are friendly and can afford candy to distribute. Every kid should have the opportunity to get bucketloads of candy on Halloween.

And if you're getting bent out of shape about the big teens, check out this article: Web Link

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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 31, 2013 at 9:21 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Some parts of Palo Alto are loaded w/trick or treaters! So much fun!

Mike - I hope you had a lot of kids come say "Trick or Treat!"

My neighborhood is too dark for safe Halloween stuff, so we go to a relative's house and decorate, hand out candy & it's always fun. One of the best places I've ever seen for Halloween is Pacifica. Masses of kids, fun costumes, many locals decorate & sit outside in the frigid air, bundled out, smiling, handing out treats & having potlucks.

Maybe Your Neighbor - one of my relatives said the same thing tonight, as your said, "Yes, there are vanloads of kids and teens from other neighborhoods and I am glad they feel comfortable enough to come here where it's safe and people are friendly and can afford candy to distribute. Every kid should have the opportunity to get bucketloads of candy on Halloween."

It's lovely to read such generous & fun comments. I hope everyone had a safe, fun evening.

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Posted by Tony
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 31, 2013 at 10:13 pm

"Tom, Dick and Jose" -- subtle. All kids love candy. Hand it out or don't, there's no need to be unpleasant about it. Personally I enjoy making so many kids happy with our decorations and the candy we give away once a year.