How “All Hallows’ Evening,” evolved into the great American candy fest is anyone’s guess. But Halloween in the Huning Castle neighborhood is not just about candy, costumes, and candles in pumpkins. It is so much more.
Maybe it is more about the myth that the neighborhood was built on a swamp that makes the place attractively spooky – but the neighborhood is not spooky; it feels friendly and safe, safe for families and kids.
I guess it goes back to the great depression. Money was scarce in Albuquerque back then, in many or most neighborhoods. There was little money for food, much less candy and costumes and candles in pumpkins. Then, it was more the saints that mattered, the observing and the remembering of the dead, the departed, those that went before.
Trick or treating can be a real bummer in a poor neighborhood. People there might pass out pennies, not dimes – certainly not dollars. One might get a cookie, not real “store bought” candy. A door might not even open when you knock, even when it is your neighbor next door . There is no name for “Scrooge” at Halloween, that’s what “Tricks” are for, if one is tricky.
It wasn’t too tricky to figure out that in the Huning Castle neighborhood most people seemed to be doing better. Doors opened there. People could afford pumpkins and candles and candy and were happy to share, there. Word spread. Stories were told at recess in school, at family meals; Huning Castle became the talk of the town; people seemed almost like saints there, kind and generous maybe.
They came by streetcars back then. Some children just walked. The parents or grand-parents came too. Huning Castle neighborhood residents didn’t mind, it was a model community and sharing was a good model of behavior. Anyway, the kids seemed to be having so much fun and that too made the elders a bit happy.
Now Halloween in Huning is often a multi-generation tradition. Kids come from all over Albuquerque. Parents bring groups in that operate candy command centers out of RV’s. Older kids without costumes hold out their bags, it’s a tradition of sorts.
Costumes are more affordable now, and the Huning neighborhood certainly gets and sees their share. Pumpkins are plentiful. Candles have lost favor, string lights of ghosts and goblins are the new fare, it’s only fair.
So really, it IS quite, “over the top.” The weather is almost always perfect. People stand patiently in line at the “better” houses. Conversation flows. There is no “edge” to the the madness, no tricks, no trickery. It’s more like a celebration of life than an eve for the dead.
And on All Saints Day, November 1st, the only dead thing around are the occasional wrappers from all ready eaten candy. It’s a small price to pay for a free party this good.