Writer’s Block: Wanted: Halloween traditions

Every community has its own claim to fame, festivities to which people look forward year round.

Olivia Koester
Olivia Koester

I knew before I even stepped foot in Anoka County that it was almost synonymous with Halloween.

When I mention to friends and family that I now work in the northern suburbs, I’m almost always met with some variation of “they love their Halloween up there!”

I have to confess that I’ve never been crazy about the holiday.

When I was little, the prospect of candy was exciting, but I usually let my mother spoil the fun when she demanded that I put a jacket on over my costume.

“What’s the point of dressing up as Cinderella if no one can tell who I am?”

I used to moan, begging to trick-or-treat without a coat, even when it was snowing. Whining doesn’t get you anywhere.

As a young adult, it seems like a lot of effort to put together a costume that makes the right statement, so usually, I don’t dress up.

Or, I kind of dress up. I wear a normal outfit, slap on some style glasses and boom: I’m Tina Fey.

I don’t have any Halloween traditions and maybe that’s the problem. I’ve never lived in a community that really relishes the spooky and the scary.

The Fourth of July is my favorite day. I credit its position in my holiday hierarchy to Boscobel, Wis., the town where I grew up. The Fourth of July is our Halloween, brimming with tradition.

The day always starts with the Firecracker Run. The entire town shows up and herds down Main Street, where people are already setting up chairs for the noon parade.

My family typically walks and I make it a game to predict whether there will be someone handing out hose-water in Dixie cups at the turnaround.

For you city folk, hose-water is exactly what it sounds like, water from someone’s garden hose. Small-town USA at its finest.

During the parade, I collect stickers from the many local politicians who join the fire trucks, band, floats and horses in the hour-plus procession.

Afterwards, my parents invite half the town over for homemade ice cream. Then, it’s off to the park for hamburgers.

The evening concludes with the greatest fireworks in the world.

We’re a town of 3,000, so I’m sure they’re not actually, but no one can argue with me. It’s definitive: They are the best.

I’ve never missed a Boscobel Fourth and I don’t intend to, even if my parents move away someday. I’ll be back.

Even though the Fourth of July is my favorite time of year, the Christmas season, the Academy Awards broadcast, Easter, the anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking – they aren’t far behind. I think the key is tradition.

My father, a pastor, is very busy around religious holidays, so we have a lot of weird traditions.

For example, on Christmas Eve, when many extended families sit down around a dining room table to a magnificent feast, my family scarfs down frozen pizza between church services. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Every year on April 14, I order an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen, requesting that it be decorated with an image of the Titanic or lyrics from “My Heart Will Go On.” I pop in the DVD and have a good cry – it’s tradition!

In order to embrace Halloween and this community, I think I need to create some new traditions that I can anticipate and cherish.

I’ve been scouring the web to find out what all Anoka has to offer in October.

Between the Anoka Knights of Columbus Haunted House, Pumpkin Night in the Park at the Springbrook Nature Center and ghost tours, I think this Halloween could rival my other favorite times of year very soon.

Happy Haunting!