Celebrate Halloween but safely

During today’s observance of Halloween, you won’t be able to look out a window of your home and see a witch riding across the night sky on a broomstick. Or will you?

Most likely, your yard won’t be beset with a host of black cats trying to give you bad luck if you cross their paths. Or might there be?

However, you might catch a glimpse of a bat flying nearby; people of many neighborhoods see them many nights of the year, not only on Halloween.

Meanwhile, many newly carved jack-o-lanterns will be visible in yards, on porches and in other “strategic” locations to honor the day.

But for most people of Blair County, the highlight of the day — or, actually, evening — will be the trick-or-treating involving throngs of children visiting the homes of neighbors and others in their towns with bags, plastic pumpkins or other containers in hand as they collect candy and other goodies.

As usual, there will be a wide variety of costumes, such as scarecrows, ghosts, princesses, skeletons, werewolfs, clowns — possibly even ninjas, a Batgirl or two and even a Catwoman and Joker.

As of Mirror press time, because of anticipated rain, most area communities — including Altoona — have postponed trick-or-treat until Saturday, and others are considering their options. (We advise readers to contact their municipality directly for information on local festivities.)

Either way, with trick-or-treating must come a reminder about safety.

Back when today’s baby boomers were children, most did so without parents, grandparents or older brothers and sisters shadowing them to ensure their safety. Many trick-or-treaters strayed beyond streets adjacent to their homes without fear of any harm.

Times have changed. Parents or guardians should ensure that there is supervision for their children during trick-or-treating, and children should be instructed not to eat any of their treats until after they arrive home.

After arriving home, candy and other treats should be checked. If any look suspicious, they should be discarded. Those who compile statistics report that one-quarter of all the candy sold annually in the United States is purchased for Halloween. It’s estimated that Americans spend $6 billion annually on the observance, the country’s second-largest commercial holiday after Christmas.

Although police, firefighters and/or volunteers monitor trick-or-treating in many communities, motorists should take special care to drive safely and always be on the lookout for a child who might stray onto a street or other roadway amid the excitement of the evening.

For adults who might attend a Halloween party, don’t drink and drive.

Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts lived mostly in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France.

In the second half of the 19th century, America was flooded with new immigrants, and those immigrants helped to popularize the celebration of Halloween. Many years ago, young women believed that on Halloween they could determine the name or appearance of their future husband by doing tricks with yarn, apple parings or mirrors. None of that is likely to be witnessed today.

Superstition, magic and mystery always have been a part of Halloween, and those are reasons why the observance continues to be popular.

But if you think you see a witch flying on a broomstick, you probably should look again.


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