Despite my wife's protests, I have become somewhat enamored with makeshift exterior illumination, especially at Halloween.
Halloween is, by far, my favorite holiday. Now, before you write that letter telling me I'm going to Hell, please note I do love the Lord, and Christmas also is one of my most cherished times of the year.
But, in terms of celebrations, there is just something about Halloween. Maybe it's the costumes, the candy and the scary movies. Maybe it's because my birthday is the day before Halloween.
Or maybe it's because Halloween directly precedes that other scary time of year when people get dressed up and pretend to be someone they aren't: Elections.
(Admit it, a cold chill just went down your spine at the very mention of the word.)
Whatever the reason, I have a special place in my heart for Halloween.
This year I've taken my exterior illumination up a notch, with orange lights in the bushes out front, illuminated pumpkins around the front door and a lighted (and very tacky) hay bales/pumpkins/skeleton display in the yard.
Not to be outdone, my neighbor Stuart Driver has attempted to one-up me at every turn, putting up his own oh-so-classy light display, with an inflatable witch on his chimney.
Someone in the neighborhood also has placed a Clemson hat on one of my pumpkin displays. That's just taking things too far.
In recent years, I have taken particular joy in giving trick-or-treaters a cheap, little thrill. On Halloween night, we usually set up the front yard with smoke machines and strobe lights and play spooky music. And we have a little fun with chainsaws (without the blade, obviously).The best part isn't scaring the kids, but rather the parents. It's not Halloween until a 5-year-old boy dressed like Batman is standing on my front lawn holding a candy bag with a bewildered look on his face as his mother runs down the street screaming.
One year a mother took off running and left a baby stroller - WITH A BABY IN IT - on my front walk. Another year a kid took off and left a shoe behind. True stories.
Last year, I dressed up like executive editor Richard Whiting and, rather than passing out candy, gave all the kids their own little copy of the Freedom of Information Act.
Bonus tip - To make a Richard Whiting Halloween costume you will need: Glasses, a necktie, a cigar, an Apple iPhone, a condescending expression, a dirty joke book and a vest (optional). If you can work exclamation points into the costume somehow, that will really sell it.
IN ALL SERIOUSNESS, parents and children who participate in trick-or-treating this Halloween should be very careful. While these activities can be fun, there are also potential dangers involved.
Last week, Greenwood County Sheriff Tony Davis sent over some very helpful Halloween safety tips to remember. Some of those tips include:
- Accompany your children if you don't think they're old enough to trick-or-treat on their own.
- If they are old enough to trick-or-treat without an adult, tell your children to stay in a group.
- Designate a route before your children begin trick-or-treating, and make sure they stick to it.
- Make sure your children only visit houses with lights on.
- Make sure children do not go inside someone's house. They can get candy on the porch.
- Dress children in bright costumes, so they can be seen. If the costume is dark, make sure they wear reflective strips or carry a glow-stick or flashlight.
- Instead of masks, consider having your children wear makeup, so their field of vision is better.
- Check your children's candy before they eat it. Discard any candy not in its original wrapper or that appears as if someone has tampered with it.
- Tell your children never to accept a ride or go anywhere with a stranger.
- Parents should know area sex offenders. Visit www.sled.sc.gov for the local sex registry.
- Children should obey all basic pedestrian rules when trick-or-treating, such as looking both ways before crossing the street, using crosswalks and using crossing lights where available.
Basically, children and their parents should keep their eyes open and use good common sense on Halloween night. It should be a night for good, clean fun. And CANDY.
So if you're in my neighborhood Wednesday night, stop on by. You might get cheap scare and you'll definitely get some good candy (I don't do any of that Chick-O-Stick-type garbage).
And if you come by in a Richard Whiting costume, I'll give you double candy.
Trainor is the senior staff writer at the Index-Journal. Contact him at 943-5650; email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter @IJCHRISTRAINOR. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper's opinion.