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Sharing Mana‘o

Trick or treat, smell my feet,

Give me something good to eat!

That was the extent of our Halloween mischief when I was a child, reciting the singsong rhyme at full volume as we marched on our mission through the neighborhood. Maui in the 1960s seemed as innocent and simple as we were, back then. No one locked their front doors, let alone their cars. Sure, we were taught to not talk to strangers, but everyone knew everyone, even we kids.

When my late husband and I moved into our first home in Waiehu, he surprised me by insisting on buying a ton of premium candy, Butterfingers and Baby Ruths, for the neighborhood trick-or-treaters. “We’re staying home?” I asked. “I thought you wanted to go to Lahaina.”

“I did,” he replied, “but we can’t risk it. I don’t want our house getting TP’d or egged.”

“That only happens in movies and comic books. Nobody does that in real life.”

“We did that, and worse, growing up in Port Arthur (Texas). Anyone who didn’t stay home and pass out candy was fair game. That’s the ‘trick’ in trick-or-treat.”

Barry went on to describe a few of the pranks he and his preteen buddies pulled on those who withheld treats. I won’t share any of them here, because they ranged from mean-spirited to downright criminal. Apparently everything really is bigger — and bolder — in Texas.

Lucky we live Maui. The only tricks I remember from my childhood Halloweens were how to keep our bags from bursting under the weight of our haul, and our parents from confiscating all the good stuff. There were years when we had to go home halfway through our rounds to empty our sacks before continuing. But we made sure to put our favorites, like Sugar Babies and Tootsie Pops, back into our bags; otherwise they’d mysteriously disappear from the pile at home.

In old Wailuku, one neighborhood auntie gave out homemade caramel apples, another welcomed us into her home for a cup of hot cocoa and cookies. Malicious tampering with treats, child abduction and bullying were unheard of back then.

Those idyllic days are long gone, and now folks on both sides of the front door have cause for concern. While trick-or-treating remains a popular tradition, many families are opting for alternative activities.

Thursday evening, I’ll be emceeing the annual Spooktacular celebration at Piilani Village Shopping Center in Kihei from 6 to 8 p.m. Jimmy Mac and the Kool Kats will get the party started, while keiki can collect goodies from mall merchants and at the Maui Classic Cruisers’ Trunk or Treat in the parking lot near the food court stage. The 7 p.m. costume contest will consist of three categories: keiki, adults and families/groups.

Queen Ka’ahumanu Center is also hosting a family-friendly celebration with store-to-store trick-or-treating for keiki 12 and younger. Maui Friends of the Library will give out books in lieu of sweets, and entertainment at Center Court will include a costume parade and contest face painting, magic, and a meet-and-greet with princesses and superheroes. QKC is specifying no masks for folks older than 12, and no sharp costume props.

However you choose to spend Halloween, I hope you’re treated to a safe and trick-free evening.

Postscript: I did convince Barry to don a costume and join the Front Street revelry, by promising to clean up any mess left by mischief makers. Just to make sure, I left the porch light on and a giant bowl of treats with a sign that read “Honor System: Help yourself to one or two.” When we returned home, we were pleasantly surprised to find nearly a dozen candy bars still in the bowl, along with a bag of Skittles that someone had apparently traded for our chocolate. Nice to know that on the night when spooks and specters rule the street, the Aloha Spirit resonates among them.

* Kathy Collins is a radio personality (The Buzz 107.5 FM), storyteller, actress, emcee and freelance writer whose “Sharing Mana’o” column appears every Wednesday. Her email address is kcmaui913@gmail.com.