Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

October 30, 2013

ROOT: Where have you gone, Charlie Brown?

Where have you gone, Charlie Brown?

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Halloween has changed a lot and the Halloweens I knew are events that my kids and grandson will never understand.

When I was a wee lad, we used to really look forward to Halloween. We would dress up in costumes at school, and those school costumes were not usually the ones we wore when we went out trick-or-treating. We would map out our path and I never left my own neighborhood because I didn’t need to.

I think Halloween is another part of the American fabric that has started to unravel. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why there are so many precautions taken at Halloween these days. But Halloween is a victim of the times that we will never bring back. It’s still huge in some parts of the region, but in Lockport it’s a fading thing that may be gone for good by the time my grandson is able to hold open his own bag and beg for treats.

We went out and bought several bags of good candy this year, but I know that my family and I will wind up eating most of it. Last year, you could literally count the number of kids we had at our house on two hands. It was sad. People don’t trust each other anymore, so the kids are not out in the neighborhoods doing their Halloween thing. A community bonding experience has been lost.

When I was a kid, we knew who all of our neighbors were, up and down the entire street, and those were the houses we went to for treats. We were on our porches waiting for 4:30 p.m. to arrive so we could get out there. Leaving the neighborhood not only was not necessary, it felt strange.

When I moved out of the old neighborhood into a new one, there was still a pretty healthy trick-or-treating schtick going on. But by the time I was in my teens, it seemed like Halloween was losing momentum.

I applaud the city for what it does for the kids on Halloween. If not for the city’s downtown party, kids may never get to experience what Halloween is all about.

When was the last time anyone saw “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” on TV? I remember sitting on my couch at home and waiting for the word “special” to come spinning out of the TV, announcing that the holidays had started.

Today, there’s nothing.

When I was a kid, I only knew what I saw on TV, what I learned in school and what my mom told me. That was an innocent way to grow up and I thought it was a lot of fun.

Today, kids grow up faster because they have access to the same information that their parents do. They see the same graphic images that adults see.

Unlike most people, I do not blame video games for the problems today, because that is all fantasy and most kids know that. It is no different than watching Elmer Fudd blast Daffy Duck in the face with a shotgun. It was entertainment, it was fantasy and we all knew that.

As Halloween fades, I wonder what is next. Personally I am revived every Thanksgiving when I see the people packed in to watch the Macy’s parade live. I still get a chill when Santa shows up at the end of the parade and the kids start waving and cheering ...

As for Halloween, I am not expecting much this year. Things have changed so much since my generation was young; it seems like the innocence that made life magical for children is almost gone. That’s really sad.

George N. Root III is a Lockport resident and a kid at heart. His column is published every Wednesday and he types it himself. He can be reached at georgeroot@verizon.net. Happy Halloween!