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By Cheryl Bac

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About this blog: I'm a wife, stay-at-home mom, home cook, marathon runner, and PhD. I recently moved to the Silicon Valley after completing my PhD in Social Psychology and becoming a mother one month apart. Before that, I ran seven marathons incl...  (More)

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A sad sea of trick-or-treaters

Uploaded: Nov 1, 2015
Our family has enjoyed the trick-or-treating event at the Stanford Shopping Center before. It's nice to have a kid-friendly event in the daylight for little ones who may not have the energy to walk from house to house, who may have an early bedtime, or who may need a little practice learning how to trick-or-treat before the evening.

I was looking forward to attending this event on Saturday. I knew we needed to show up early or, at least, on time in order to participate, but I was saddened to see just how quickly the event was over. Shortly after the event supposedly started, trick-or-treaters were wandering around the mall with empty or almost empty bags in search of candy. The few stores with candy left were either hard to find or had long lines. It was not the happy and lively event I had remembered from last year.

I'm lucky that my son knew this was only a "practice" trick-or-treating event and he would get to do the "real thing" in the evening. Our neighborhood didn't disappoint. The trick-or-treaters were dressed to impressed, the candy was plentiful, and the houses were filled with smiling faces welcoming kids. A successful Halloween.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North,
on Nov 1, 2015 at 6:41 pm

Had a good, happy stream come to my house.

Moral: Stick with the neighbors.

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Nov 1, 2015 at 7:03 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Curmudgeon - Yes, we will definitely be returning to our neighbors next Halloween.

Posted by Reader, a resident of another community,
on Nov 1, 2015 at 11:03 pm

That's too bad about the shopping center.

Blame Simon Property Group.

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Nov 2, 2015 at 9:41 am

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Reader - Yes, definitely not what we had hoped for. Maybe next year they will expect the crowds and have more candy.

Posted by Keep it simple, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Nov 2, 2015 at 1:11 pm

I heard Valley fair was a zoo/nightmare as well. Sad for the kids. I don't get the whole organized, pre-packaged concept. It doesn't have to be complicated at all:

Find a good neighborhood with sidewalks, houses fairly close, lots of kids, even if it is not your neighborhood. It's how it has been done around here for at least 50 years and I haven't seen a decline in the smiles in all that time.
A lot of us in Cuesta Park welcome the extra kids and consider it an honor or compliment that they would come to our area to ToT. See ya next year :)

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Nov 2, 2015 at 5:49 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Keep it simple - Yes, it sounds like many neighborhoods around here welcome trick-or-treaters. We are very lucky.

Posted by TimH, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Nov 3, 2015 at 11:26 am

I'm glad that your neighbors were open to Halloween fun, as that's a "given" now. It's not clear why the Shopping Center merchants disappointed trick-or-treaters but they could be perplexed as to what kind of treats to offer now, between allergies (no Snickers there!), trans fats or just plain (our) local taste for quality. I add the last one since some kids aren't thrilled to get generic candy that more resembles "mockolate" (sp?) than the real thing. I agree that Center management should not leave this to chance, and to guide and support its merchants to offer a fun, lasting experience for kids of all ages.

Posted by Alan, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven,
on Nov 3, 2015 at 12:16 pm

Alan is a registered user.

We were walking around Stanford Shopping Center last Wednesday, and were surprised by the utter lack of Halloween decorations. This is not consistent with other years.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Nov 3, 2015 at 4:17 pm

Many years ago Stanford Shopping Center was a kids' delight. We had the Sesame Street Store, Disney Store, several toy stores, the ball pit in MacDonalds as well as the self play piano, and it was always the place we went to spend Christmas money or birthday money.

It is now not kid friendly. There is nothing to interest small kids or even elementary age children.

I wouldn't bother taking kids there anymore for any reason.

Posted by Barbie, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown,
on Nov 3, 2015 at 8:56 pm

Resident, ever hear of the American Girl store? It's a huge doll store at the Stanford Shopping Center that took over Talbots. Little girls love it.

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Nov 3, 2015 at 9:01 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

TimH- Thanks for commenting. Yes, I also hope they get the guidance and support they need to improve this event in the future. When it was clear that the candy had basically run out, kids were happy to even receive one sticker. I think many just wanted to participate in the event.

Alan - Thanks for commenting. Our son was excited to see Halloween merchandise in some of the stores, but I also don't remember seeing actual decorations around the mall. On Saturday it was very nice to see a handful of the store employees wearing costumes for the trick-or-treating event.

Resident- Thanks for commenting. When our son was younger I used to meet up with other parents at the mall during the day. We could run a quick errand and then have lunch. But, I agree, I don't think I would suggest the mall as a fun outing for our preschoolers to meet up.

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Nov 3, 2015 at 9:05 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Barbie - I've only stepped into this American Girl store once or twice. Maybe when my daughter is older she will be interested in all they have to offer.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Nov 4, 2015 at 8:09 am

In this pc age, perhaps it is time to get an American Boy store, or change the name to American Child!

Boys do not want a doll store, so it only counts for half of the population.

Posted by MPer , a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks,
on Nov 4, 2015 at 11:12 am

@resident American girls sells VERY expensive dolls and accessories. As a Dad of a boy I am glad not to have an "American Boy" store to waste money in :). Plenty of other places to buy toys.

Posted by MPd, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown,
on Nov 4, 2015 at 11:22 am


The Halloween Parade and Trick or Treating in Downtown MP was great this year. Most stores participated and my son loved marching in the Parade and (of course) getting lots of candy!

What was strange to me was that the new Mademoiselle Colette Pasterie shop and Suzy Cakes both declined to participate. You'd think that they would want people to sample their products. Oh well. On our only trip to Mademoiselle ColetteI we found the prices high, the pastries small, the coffee mediocre and the services abysmal.

Thanks to all the business who made the Halloween a fun one in MP!

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Nov 4, 2015 at 2:34 pm

MPer, my comment was tongue in cheek. I am really not a fan of American Girl, but my family remembers lots of fun trips to Stanford before it came along to spend Christmas money at Disney Store, Sesame Street Store, Imaginarium, etc. and play in the ball pit at the MacDonalds with the self play piano. It is now a desert for kids.

Not sure about who may visit American Girl, it is way out of our league.

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Nov 4, 2015 at 7:00 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

MPer - Thanks for commenting. Yes, if your child likes their dolls, it's easy to spend money at that store.

MPd - Thanks for sharing your experience. We were also downtown that day and quickly stopped by a few stores. It looked like a fun and well attended event.

Resident- Yes, I'm sure our kids would be thrilled to have some of those stores close by.

Posted by Barron Park resident, a resident of Barron Park,
on Nov 9, 2015 at 10:02 pm

the Stanford mall has evolved into a rich persons place, over priced, no kids philosophy. More commercialization of our town with outsiders looking to purchase gaudy shiny things to distract their worthless lives.

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Nov 10, 2015 at 1:32 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Barron Park resident - Thanks for sharing your option about the mall. I'm curious what the mall will be like after all the renovations are complete.

Posted by LW, a resident of another community,
on Nov 11, 2015 at 9:50 am

I am amazed at the comments here, as I did not see any of this same sentiment at Stanford on Halloween. I was there with my daughter (older), and my parents. We sat at a table in the courtyard and basically people watched. What we saw was an amazing community event with hundreds of smiling kids. There were games for the kids to participate in for the 1st 2 hours...which was packed. The costumed mall entertainers gave tons of kids some fun! Afterwards, we watched hoards of kids trick or treating at the stores, with nary a whine, complaint nor tear of disappointment.
Granted, I was told in 1 store later, that they started too early by accident and ran out of candy, but I witnessed nothing but happy faces in the 4 hrs I was there.
I personally hope Stanford hosts this again next year, as I support what is say was a successful event from my vantage point.

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Nov 11, 2015 at 2:39 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

We came to the shopping center only for the trick or treating event that supposedly started at three. I agree, it sounded like stores started trick or treating early, did not buy nearly enough candy to last 2 hours, or both.

Personally, I don't remember seeing happy kids and parents at the event. Just a lot of frustration and disappointment. Maybe it was different at 2:00 (before the event was suppose to start). Or maybe it was different watching the event in the courtyard vs trying to participate in it.

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