NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:
I learned with some sadness that Norman will have its first Downtown Fall Fest. It’s one more nail in the coffin of Halloween, as we once knew it.
Of course, Halloween has been on the ropes for a while. Schools and churches have long sought to pre-empt it with their own festivals, partly to water down what they think are its occult elements. But more than that, it’s our obsession with safety, safety, safety that is killing this holiday.
Halloween as a tradition in our community has withered in recent years. On my street, the traffic in young ghosts and goblins has dwindled to almost nothing.
We either get a few timid souls, dutifully shadowed by their parents’ minivans (can’t take risks, after all!) or we get the late evening clusters of barely disguised teenagers, sullenly holding open their pillow cases for candy while they check their cell phones.
True, Norman’s Downtown Fall Fest doesn’t actually take place on Halloween night, but the timing of this event offers just one more reason and pretext for parents and their children to avoid celebrating on the streets where they live in favor of some commercial substitute. Why carve a pumpkin for your front stoop or bother visiting with the family next door when you can drive downtown?
Ah, yes, that Downtown Fall Fest is billed as a “safe, family friendly environment.” But if our own neighborhoods aren’t safe enough for our children to trick-or-treat in, then what are they safe for?