Town Square

How Halloween Has Changed in Palo Alto

Original post made by Bill Glazier, Old Palo Alto, on Oct 31, 2018

We've done 35 years of Halloween as a home owner in Palo Alto - living in homes in Southgate and now in Old Palo Alto. As parents and now as empty nesters, we have religiously participated, doing our best to decorate our house, be welcoming, and have good candy for the kids from our neighborhoods.

Over the last 3 years, we have seen the nature of the holiday change dramatically. 20 years ago at our house, we would get well over a hundred kids over the course of an evening,. Running out of candy was almost a certainty, and we would inevitably see many of the neighborhood kids from our local elementary schools, sports teams, music organizations and the like. It was fun and a great way to be a part of the community. Our kids would run off and go everyplace else to get candy, but at least one of us stayed home to greet the ongoing stream of smiling kids, many of whom we knew and were glad to see.

Since the rise of these mega-events at the homes of various high net worth folk (who are well intentioned I have no doubt), the traffic in our neighborhood and to our house has plunged from a gushing river of kids to little more than an occasional drip. We live two blocks away from the Jobs house, and people are parking up and down our street to go there, but we have had barely 10 total kids come to our door, and it is 8PM.

Sadly, this makes this holiday far less fun for us. We have personally noticed that an increasing number of families on our street are now not participating at all - going out or just turning off their lights and not answering their door. My wife and I talked seriously tonight about doing that next year.

The lines at these mega-events are very long - entire streets are shut down, and kids wait a long time in lines. It is certainly an event, and the displays are very highly produced, but I cannot help but wonder if this is really a good thing for the community. I just wonder if this is something worth considering - is the goal of Halloween to encourage billionaires to compete to create the most 'awesome' halloween show, or to encourage kids to go out and have a fun time and for families to participate?

I certainly appreciate the desire to make halloween a special experience, but I can say without a doubt that these 'super-shows' have dramatically changed the experience for us, and I do not think it is necessarily for the positive. When I was a kid, running with my friends from house to house, and collecting as much candy as possible was the number 1 goal - and for the families, it was great to see the parade of great costumes and all the neighborhood kids who would grow and change from year to year.

While I guess it is not the most pressing issue facing the community, it is something worth sharing and considering...


55 people like this
Posted by Old-fashioned Halloween
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 31, 2018 at 9:53 pm

Old-fashioned Halloween is a registered user.

@Bill. I agree, and I am sorry to hear it. Community is important, and it is sad to see this neighborliness slipping away. Our 'hood has not been so impacted, but I would be so sad to see that happen.

28 people like this
Posted by Carol
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 31, 2018 at 10:10 pm

I couldn't agree more. We have lived in Old Palo Alto for 42 years in the same old house. Tonight our doorbell rang about 6 times, total. It was very quiet. One cause, I think, is that parents are nervous about allowing their children to ring the doorbells of strangers --

65 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2018 at 11:52 pm

We were slightly down on previous years, we do keep a count, and they stopped coming a little earlier,

The ones who I feel miss out the most are a couple of our elderly neighbors who buy the candy and look forward to seeing the children come to the door. They leave their porch light on, have a pumpkin or two but little other decoration, and get no callers. They want to feel part of the community and feel snubbed now. It isn't just all about the children, but about all members of the community who want to feel part of the festivities.

I know because tomorrow they will give me their candy with a sad expression on their faces.

18 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 1, 2018 at 5:48 am

Annette is a registered user.

The goblin count is down at our house, too, but I think College Ave is still pretty "old fashioned". I guess kids have got the whole "ROI" figured out and go where the entertainment factor and candy haul are best. No doubt safety concerns have also contributed to the changes. Hopefully the people with the magnet houses enjoy the night as much as "regular ol' neighbors" did in years past.

2 people like this
Posted by Shu Wen
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 1, 2018 at 8:21 am

[Post removed.]

40 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 1, 2018 at 9:31 am

I am disgusted that there are now street closures in some areas to enable the commercialism of this.

Halloween has changed from children wearing some home made improvised costumes to meet and greet their own neighbors learning how to be respectful and show manners, adults meet their own neighbors and join in the community spirit, to what is now a time of commercialism and decadence with expensive costumes and expensive extravagant decorations with the prizes for the most greedy as gaining the most and the best candy.

Shallow Alto was an apt thought that came to mind while reading about this today.

39 people like this
Posted by SH
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 1, 2018 at 9:33 am

Grew up in Old PA during the 80's, fortunate to live here today. Like so many of P.A,'s recent changes, Halloween has been a little unsettling- better in a few respects, but worse in many. Then, trick or treating was all about catching up with friends, meeting new neighbors who'd moved in, etc., participation and overall mood were great. Contrast that with the commercial-style events of last night- more carloads of people driving in from wherever, fewer younger kids, less costume creativity, lots of rushing along to "get more", borderline unsafe moments for small children, and minimal unexpected personal interaction. My middle-school kids wanted nothing to do with the chaos and crossed Embarcadero to hang out with friends. Like other commenters, am left wondering whether we'll hunker down inside next year, and how long it'll be before shuttle buses are introduced, a block is dedicated to food trucks and vendors, etc. It's great that we're all so competitive, but this feels like an arena where "Palo Alto is special" becomes a dubious distinction.

34 people like this
Posted by Sarah
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 1, 2018 at 10:12 am

Agreed with Bill. I definitely prefer to see neighborhood children walking around for candies.
There were only five group of kids/teens rang our door bell last night. But a lot of cars parked on the streets because they parked & walked to the mega-event houses. My own teen & friends walked to Jobs' house before 6:30pm. And she said the line was way too long to get in, maybe at least one hour wait.

It looked like Disneyland...............

25 people like this
Posted by Look at ME!
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 1, 2018 at 10:14 am

Look at ME! is a registered user.

I agree Bill. It's sad, but they all want to be the house that everyone goes to for Halloween. Feeds their egos. It's not.about community to them.

[Portion removed.]

25 people like this
Posted by Resident for 60 years
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 1, 2018 at 11:22 am

While our children have aged-out of the Halloween fun, we truly missed them getting dressed up and going out trick-or-treating with their friends. On the other hand, we are so glad our children HAVE aged-out of celebrating Halloween especially with new residents such as Shu Wen who don't believe in the spirit of children being children and just having good old-fashioned fun. We still decorate our home and we still spend money on candy. Last night, we happily handed out candy to anyone, regardless of age who stopped by. Palo Alto has become a very sad city to live in with these new families who don't understand how Palo Alto use to be.

26 people like this
Posted by Allison
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 1, 2018 at 11:34 am

I am surprised that a house two blocks from the Jobs house gets no visitors. We live on Ramona just south of Oregon for seven years. There used to be so much more Trick or Treating activity on our street - but not anymore. Kids ARE going elsewhere. I agree that having these mega shows are changing the dynamics of Halloween in Palo Alto - and its not a good thing.

Personally, my family and I stay away from the Old Palo Alto/Jobs area on Halloween. I don't want my kids eating up their precious trick or treating hours by waiting in a line and I don't want to be involved with so many people! And, it is more fun to run around as fast as you can as a kid - to go to each house. So, that is what my kids do!

4 people like this
Posted by Annual Halloween Soiree
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 1, 2018 at 11:39 am

Isn't a Temporary Use Permit (TUP) required by the City to use a vacant single family residential lot (2051 Bryant Street) for special events such as the annual Halloween Party?

31 people like this
Posted by Miriam Palm
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 1, 2018 at 11:58 am

Miriam Palm is a registered user.

I am a long time resident of OPA - grew up here. I live inside the cordoned off area for Halloween. We had 750 kids by 7:30, after which I put up a NO MORE CANDY sign that kids kept taking down, so our doorbell rang on and on ... most younger kids were supervised and polite, saying Thank You for the candy, but I regret this is no longer a neighborhood event, as it was in my childhood.

28 people like this
Posted by Fairmeadow Dad
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 1, 2018 at 12:09 pm

this trend is in South Palo Alto as well. The long block of South Court (on the North side of E. Meadow) is madness with hundreds and hundreds of people and unsafe parking/driving happening.

Walk across into the Circles and it is absolutely crickets...almost nobody. My kids and their friends prefer the fact, we had an awesome moment on a quiet part of Bryant Street in the Circles last night when there was rustling sounds in the tree above us and we put a flash light up and saw a beautiful, large white barn owl spread its wings and silently fly over us - now THAT was a Halloween moment.

Anyway, so many of the houses we visited in the Circles said they didn't understand why not kids were coming to their (nicely decorated) houses...we told them it's because South Court is the destination street now.

Oh well...

38 people like this
Posted by Fun community celebration.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 1, 2018 at 12:12 pm

Fun community celebration. is a registered user.

We experienced something wonderful in the Greenmeadow neighborhood this year. The neighborhood association held a friendly party with pizza for neighbors and their invited guests to gather and see each others' costumes. Then everyone went out trick-or-treating together the old-fashioned way--as a community--in the neighborhood.

Lots of fun had by all. There are fewer billionaires in south Palo Alto, I suppose. It was nice to be part of it.

Showy vs. community. What are we teaching the kids?

4 people like this
Posted by Thousands of Trick or Treaters in Los Gatos
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 1, 2018 at 12:31 pm

Thousands of Trick or Treaters in Los Gatos is a registered user.

Have no idea what is going on in Palo Alto, but in downtown Los Gatos, homeowners in Tait Ave area estimate 1000 kids come through the area. Tait Avenue is closed off and is completely open to foot traffic. And revelers of all ages are there in droves, adorned in their Lady Gaga, Jack Sparrow or vampire getups. Despite the large crowds, it’s a safe venue for the kids. The number of out-of-towners who come to Tait Avenue is testament to the street’s safety and friendly confines. source Web Link

Sounds like Palo Alto needs to step up their name, PA just not as much fun as LG.

Tait Ave LG 2015 Web Link

16 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 1, 2018 at 12:44 pm

We had a moderate amount of trick-or-treaters this year. Most were young or relatively young and those with home-made costumes got more candy from me.
Many fun Halloween memories from childhood back east.
Some newer community members don’t care about Halloween/simply aren’t interested. I think it’s fun to do decorating for this holiday (not a big production).
I decided not to list our home on NextDoor, finding previously that people from way out of area will drive to one’s area if one is listed. One lady openly advertised on NextDoor yesterday that first 90 kids get a full-sized candy bar (oh, wow) - note my irony. I guess some can’t resist outdoing their (perhaps elderly, perhaps well-meaning participating neighbors).2
I also give out fun non-food Halloween items; these are often complimented. One kid last night couldn’t have candy (likely food allergy) so providingthese alternate items may be appreciated.
Still, I dislike the modern thing of some parents out of costume demanding candy and trick-or-treating “for” an infant.
Cars driving large groups in rankles me.
I had two groups of like 20 suddenly descend on us; I then limit to one item.
No grabbing! No rushing my entry, either.
I dole out the candy, being as generous as our fairly large supply permits as the night goes on.
Big corporate productions noted above (tax write off?) strike me as competitive and not in the spirit of Halloween.

5 people like this
Posted by Same in Southgate
a resident of Southgate
on Nov 1, 2018 at 12:50 pm

I echo the comments above. I had about 6 groups total, and they fit with the new profile of being either on the young end so skipping the big deal on Waverley, or young teens who are on a mission for the most candy. I now give out multiple full-size candy bars as I am so glad to have anyone come! Regarding the spectacle, I recall a few years ago there was a little scandal where some homeowners were using a code-word for local kids to get more/better candy because the spectacle providers didn't seem to want the kids who looked like they came from elsewhere, namely EPA.

5 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto native
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 1, 2018 at 1:18 pm

Charleston Meadows was quiet. Eight to ten kids stopped by. We expected more.

14 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 1, 2018 at 1:36 pm

I completely agree with the original poster and my family's experience in Professorville last night was similar. We've been in our house for 16 years and each year the number of trick-or-treaters decreases though there are stil plenty of school age ikids living n the neighborhood. I think people doing these over the top dispalys are doing so all in good fun they just don't stop to think about how it effects their neighbors, and significantly so. I'm not sure these people have much interest in thinking how their actions effect others.

25 people like this
Posted by YP
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 1, 2018 at 1:46 pm

YP is a registered user.

Our door bell rang 4 or 5 times last night. The streets around us were dead . This is much different than 10-15 years ago when we would get 20-25 groups. I think social media is also influencing this with kids coordinating where they are going and hunting out the "hot" spots.
It really is sad that local kids and parents that live maybe only a block or two or even a house or two away don't bother to drop by and say hello to get candy. Seems like something is lost with being a neighbor.

14 people like this
Posted by Bikermom
a resident of Mayfield
on Nov 1, 2018 at 1:49 pm

I agree. We used to walked through the Cal Ave. tunnel to Old Palo Alto, until the mega parties which were too packed where children would get lost, and too creepy for our children. So a few years ago we headed over to College Terrace. It's the perfect place filled with lots of good cheer and happy children without the lines and over hype. Yes it saddens me that Palo Alto has turned everything into OVER THE TOP!

20 people like this
Posted by Anneke
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 1, 2018 at 1:52 pm

Halloween should not be a competitive event, and it is somewhat thoughtless of some very wealthy folks to suck up all the oxygen. As someone correctly mentioned above, this is not Disney World. This is a community event for children AND for adults who look forward to interacting with youngsters in a traditional celebration.

Our home received quite a few young visitors, many of them coming from other areas, which is perfectly fine with us. All of them were accompanied by parents or adults, and the grown-ups made sure the kids said thank-you. Very impressive.

For us it was once again a nice experience.

15 people like this
Posted by Nice kids
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 1, 2018 at 2:02 pm

Nice kids is a registered user.

The children who came to my house last night were very polite and cheerful. They seemed to be having lots of fun. I was gone for part of the evening, but we got quite a few in the hour after I returned.

Halloween is fun. I saw some very creative homemade costumes--an little astronaut (complete with full size cardboard rocket on a wagon), a Founding Father, A witch that was extravagantly made up and garbed in feathery rags--very spooky--to name a few.

Well done, kids! That was fun!

38 people like this
Posted by The Best Halloween Ever!
a resident of Atherton
on Nov 1, 2018 at 2:22 pm

Grew up in Atherton and one year we knocked on Willie Mays' front door. He gave us autographed baseballs! Soon word got out on the streets that evening and parents started knocking on his door asking for signed baseballs. He politely told them it was only for the kids.

The following year he wasn't home on Halloween.

11 people like this
Posted by Another Palo Alto Halloween
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Nov 1, 2018 at 2:54 pm

We enjoy transporting our children to Palo Alto for trick or treating on Halloween night. The streets are safer and the people in the nicer neighborhoods hand-out good candy. I will usually drop my kids off (along with a group of their friends) in Crescent Park around 7PM and pick them up after 10PM. By then they have covered several different neighborhoods! Each child carries 3-4 pillow cases and after they return home, my husband will weigh them to see who is the individual winner. I think the record is still around 20-22 pounds. One parent I know will arrange to meet her children at a specified street corner to relieve them of their bags and pillowcases so they can continue unburdened by the extra weight.

13 people like this
Posted by Novelera
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 1, 2018 at 3:56 pm

Novelera is a registered user.

For the first time I turned off my porch light and other house lights and retreated to my spare room/office at the back of the house I've lived in since 1982. I usually have a lighted pumpkin and buy lots of treats. The last two years there have been very few children coming by my little house in Midtown, and I've ended up bringing the candy to work and fattening up my co-workers.

Walking downtown on Monday evening to have dinner with a friend who lives in Professorville, I was stunned by the Halloween decorations and how expensive they were. Whole front yards full of giant plastic creatures. Some of them moved!

I suppose you can't blame the kids in my neighborhood who want to go for the gusto, but I suspect I'm not the only one who's decided not to carve pumpkins, stay home, wear a costume, and wait to greet my neighbors' children that don't come any more.

7 people like this
Posted by susanna
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 1, 2018 at 4:26 pm

Five Palo Alto years behind and this years Halloween trick-or-treat, everything was different than previous years. There was clearly groups of people from somewhere else to do trick-or-treating with very small kids with them but they were behaving rude (claiming all the space with their rollers and kids being wild and running to people and not clearly understanding a concept of trick-or-treat (because too young) and adults of these groups checking out yards in the way wasn't feeling really appropriate.) This was first time I saw this happening and it wasn't feeling very good. Another thing was that people including kids were not having so much costumes as previous years! Why? People were not walking around happy relaxed looking around but more chaos wanting just to see everything. Many of our friends with their kids didn't want to come around Jobs house this year because too many photo and video taking "tourists" . I got a feeling that this wasn't anymore for normal neighborhood trick-or-treaters.

9 people like this
Posted by glr
a resident of Addison School
on Nov 1, 2018 at 4:38 pm

I live on addison ave which is one of the destination hot spots. Last night the crowds made the block look as crowded as main street in Disneyland. I have mixed feelings. I agree, its not a neighborhood event anymore, we have vans and cars full of families driving in from other areas to be here for the evening. Although the neighborhood feeling is gone, I see everyone having a good time. Yet I do feel for those households who have their houses past over because its not as decked out with decorations. Especially the seniors and houses with young children who have decorated and are joyously waiting at their door to hand out candy. That does make it sad. My kids used to run around from house to house and see who would get the most candy. Now, some kids are content to wait 45 minutes in a line just to get to that one door. Maybe there can be more incentive for parents with the real young ones who dont care about waiting in big lines to skip that and go to all the "smaller homes". The younger ones would probably have more fun moving quickly from house to house and showing off their costume to the person who answers the door. Or maybe nighbors can get together with a few neighborhood seniors and go out front to just sit together and talk and watch all the costumes. I dont know the answer. I guess its all about what is important for each parent and child. Anyways, Happy Halloween.

5 people like this
Posted by Back in the day
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Nov 1, 2018 at 6:01 pm

I had heard that Steve Jobs personally handed out treats on Halloween so we trick-or-treated at his house one time and met him in the early 2000s. The neighborhood was filled with children and teens. Last time we were in that area was around 2011 and the crowds of adults had already begun. Perhaps there aren't many children in Old PA anymore? They have all grown up and is there much turnover in Old PA? What young families can afford houses there?

Viewing the photos in the blocked-off area of Old PA Web Link it seems to have morphed into a huge adult Halloween gathering where Palo Alto wanabes gather. At least when they go downtown, they pay taxes.

10 people like this
Posted by YP
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 1, 2018 at 6:42 pm

YP is a registered user.

Let me summarize.

Having read a lot of comments it's obvious mega/hollywood Halloween celebrations have now attracted the vast majority of kids, and many other neighborhoods are ghost towns on hallows eve (pun intended)

Many of us that no longer get many kids are now turning off the lights and not participating.

So is this good or bad for our community, I guess everyone has their own opinion.

9 people like this
Posted by Terri
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 1, 2018 at 8:16 pm

I live in the Midtown area. Each year for the last 5 years, our doorbell has rung less and less. Last night I had a total of 4 kids. Our house is decorated for Halloween/ Fall. It’s very welcoming and festive!
Very sad but I understand that my neighborhood can not compete with California Ave., area.

12 people like this
Posted by DTNDTN
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 1, 2018 at 8:48 pm

1. I agree that the ego trip super display is more about the host's ego than about the trick-or-treaters.

2. However, there is another dynamic at play that is worth consideration. Back in the day we roamed the neighborhoods with a pack of kids up to hijinks and fun...without parents. Nowdays, helicopter parents are increasingly reluctant to turn the kids loose on halloween, lest something happen to their precious ones. Or, they skip halloween and go to shopping mall events the weekend prior...during the daytime...b/c it is safe and monitored by the parent.

9 people like this
Posted by Sad
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 1, 2018 at 9:21 pm

@DTNDTN, agree with your 1st point re: ego.

I'm worried for the future--- I'd love passing out candy but the numbers keep shrinking. Hate living in the middle of a ghostown on Halloween!

Not even Nextdoor posting helped! sigh

11 people like this
Posted by Niclas
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 1, 2018 at 9:44 pm

We just enjoyed our first Halloween in Palo Alto, and me and my wife visited the mega events in Old Palo Alto, but spent the majority of the evening in North Downtown with "regular" trick-or-treating. Even though the big, crazy events were amazing, they felt very "corporate".
We both prefer the genuine feeling of people spending their own time - as opposed to hire other to do the work - to create great experiences.
Amateurs just feel much more genuine and fun, where professional actors certainly fall short.

13 people like this
Posted by Neera
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 1, 2018 at 10:15 pm

We live in Ventura with two little kiddos (age 2 and 4), and our kids get so incredibly excited to trick or treat in our neighborhood. It's actually quite disappointing when we knock on a door (with the porch light on, and in many cases with decorations up) and no one answers! This happened at multiple houses yesterday night.

For those of you who are frustrated with the small numbers of trick-or-treaters, and are thinking of"opting-out" next year, please think again. This will become a self-fulfilling prophecy, with even fewer families coming by if the streets have fewer houses participating. Instead of thinking about only getting a handful of kids stopping by, think about how much joy you might bring to those few kiddos! Also, realistically, how hard is it to buy a few bags of candy and watch TV while waiting for a few hours one night of the year?

9 people like this
Posted by OldPaloAltan
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 1, 2018 at 10:24 pm

“Ego” and “commercialization” as used in this comment stream are not a good way to describe the extravagent Halloween displays put up by our neighbors who have no need for financial or social recognition. I believe these are genuine attempts by the home and lot owners to make a contribution to the community and have some creative fun at the same time (although with a budget that not everyone can not afford.)

But these well-intentioned efforts/investments may have unintended consequences. We live 5 blocks from the big shows on Waverley near Santa Rita/Waverley Ct. As many in OPA have observed, we have had a dramatic decrease in visitors at our house in the past few years, down to zero this year (albeit with minimal seasonal display.). This when street parking on Waverley is fully occupied and crowds are moving down the street to and from the large attractions. Loss of local doorbell ringers is a downside of the big attractions, as well as the congestion from not-so-local crowds.
But we enjoy great advantages here in Palo Alto, so maybe the answer is for more streets in town with enertaining displays (as in a part of Hamilton last night where I witnessed a wonderful balance of kids, costumes, and parental conversation)

8 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 2, 2018 at 2:41 am

Ah yes. I fondly recall those olden times on Hallowed Eve back in the 1880s... The younguns would ride up on their ponies bearing such delicacies as chestnuts, acorns, and Redwood saplings. Some would dress in colorful costumes of the local tribe or fancy dungarees from that city feller named Strauss.

We would gladly provide the scamps with delicious homemade Squirrel Oil and Possum Pie as a special treat. Sometimes there was barely enough to go around!

What's more: I can still picture Mr. Leland Stanford -- he would pull out his banjo and sometimes Jane Stanford would dance an Irish Jig in all her finery. O yes, it was a scene like we've never witnessed before!

Then came these newfangled electric lights and moving vehicles and other doohickeys and it all went to Davey Jones' locker.


5 people like this
Posted by commonsense
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 2, 2018 at 3:36 am

It's different its boring and yes its narcissistic.

4 people like this
Posted by Tod
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 2, 2018 at 4:00 am

Grew up behind MA on the Menlo/Atherton border but with good access to Palo Alto. The lines and crowds are a pain. But my kids loved it then we watched the warriors around a firepit at a friend’s nearby. Thanks to everybody putting their energy into Halloween. It’s fun. There are unintended consequences, but that’s life. Good clean fun....

5 people like this
Posted by not alone
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 2, 2018 at 4:48 am


I noticed a big change last year, I am near Lincoln Ave which used to be grand central back when my daughter now in college would trick or treat in Elementary school.

I'm on the highly enthusiastic side of the spectrum for Halloween, I have lit up pumpkins, spooky elements (not too scary mindful of the little kids); I buy probably too much candy. I make sure I am ready early enough but this year I didn't feel guilty for not being home for Halloween in Palo Alto (first time in 20 years).

Couple things stand out about last year, besides hardly any trick or treaters, one is that two middle aged people (man and woman) dressed up handed me their pillow cases to fill up with candy and the man had what looked like a medieval sledge hammer in his hands. It was bizarre and annoying. I closed my door real fast. The other is hardly any teens (I agree with whoever posted that social media probably dictates what teens do, and they are not randomly going door to door anymore).

But I'm not giving up! I'll decorate next year, and have lots of candy, maybe the crowd from Addison will make it by my house.

Thanks for posting - it's good to know am not alone in noticing the changes

9 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 2, 2018 at 9:58 am

And then there's the political side. I read elsewhere that candy was given out with an inclusion of who to vote for school board.I wonder if the candy was paid for by the election funds.

Then there is the rumor that one person was only giving candy if the child said that Trump was evil? Really, the president of the United States should not be part of a Halloween treat. I think this same person is behind the group that is paying to advertise against another school board candidate in the weekly.

Making Halloween a political platform in this way is alarming to me.

12 people like this
Posted by Joanna
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Nov 2, 2018 at 10:14 am

I want to offer a different perspective.
There are some streets in los altos that are still very homey and fun with neighborhood kids walking around (Orange Ave is one). But I actually think of the Waverley celebration as a gift to the larger community. Yes, people drove to get there and yes they had to stand in line. But the performances were fabulous, the candy was generous, and lots of kids had the opportunity to participate from out of the community. They looked like they were having a great time and it was a special evening for them. There should be room for both.

13 people like this
Posted by It's about the kids - not you
a resident of Monroe Park
on Nov 2, 2018 at 10:43 am

First let me say, we had a few hundred kids come by our place - moderately decorated and on the edge of the MV/PA border. It was fun to see all the costumes and the kids get so excited when I offer more than one piece. Most were polite and said thank you before leaving. I was surprised and happy about that.

To all of you complaining about how this has changed and how you are so disappointed I'd suggest you remember... this is an event centered around the kids. Sure it's fun to have them come by but I talked to a few families that went to Job's place and the kids were overflowing with excitement about how amazing the decorations were and how cool it was. Not one said they wished they had done something different. If you want to do more decorations, do it. Just like Christmas decor, I think a bit of friendly one-upping is kind of in the spirit! If you find yourself complaining, perhaps you should look inside to find a bit of peace about the whole approach you are taking, or better yet, ask a friend with kids to let you stroll along as they walk around the neighborhood, and maybe encourage them to visit the quieter homes too.

5 people like this
Posted by Need to
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 2, 2018 at 11:14 am

We own and live in a Mtn View duplex, we put up orange lights and decorations with the addition of a Boris Karloff sound track. Both of us dress up and sit outside welcoming the kids offer wine or beer to the big kids that we know- aka parents!!. It’s a party. It wraps by 9:30 at the latest, surprised by those who say their kids are grown now so they do not participate. We never had kids, why is that a requirement, where is their sense of fun???

9 people like this
Posted by Parent of kids
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 2, 2018 at 1:20 pm

I agree with the original poster's sentiments. We moved from the East Coast 10 years ago. Not having grown up here in the US, Halloween and seeing all the festivity with it continues to be a big deal for us. The East Coast town we lived in was completely decorated with everyone out in the open socializing while handing out candy. When we came to CA 10 years ago, it was depressing that not everyone was into the Halloween. We are in the mid-town neighborhood and it was sad to see so many dark houses on our street. We as a family have decided no matter what, we would continue to decorate for Halloween even after our kids moved out and give out candy to whoever comes our way.

16 people like this
Posted by The whole point is community connection.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 2, 2018 at 4:11 pm

The whole point is community connection. is a registered user.

This is one more way social media is destroying real communities. Parents know about these outlandish displays because of social media. They flock (like lemmings) away from their own neighborhoods, away from the opportunity to visit and celebrate with people in their neighborhoods.

We wonder why community is breaking down for our kids. Celebrate close to home. Build ties with people your kids will see often--a community your family can rely on in emergencies. Build friendships close by that you can enjoy easily throughout the year. Neighborhood ties build strong communities.

31 people like this
Posted by Delusions of Grandeur
a resident of Mayfield
on Nov 2, 2018 at 5:10 pm

>I can still picture Mr. Leland Stanford -- he would pull out his banjo and sometimes Jane Stanford would dance an Irish Jig in all her finery. O yes, it was a scene like we've never witnessed before!

Curious. What were the indentured/impoverished laborers of Mexican descent + the few remaining indentured/impoverished Ohlones who worked on 'The Farm' doing during this festive occasion? Were they out trick or treating in Crescent Park?

2 people like this
Posted by Modern young parent culture
a resident of Los Altos
on Nov 3, 2018 at 12:08 am

It is disappointing to me in talking with young coworkers, that parents don't want their kids to consume sugar so they come home and toss all the Halloween candy. How wasteful is that and what a terrible lesson millennials are teaching their kids. The thought that I spent money on candy to end up in the landfill is disgusting.

13 people like this
Posted by PA Voter
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 3, 2018 at 8:01 am

> ...parents don't want their kids to consume sugar so they come home and toss all the Halloween candy...The thought that I spent money on candy to end up in the landfill is disgusting.

Perhaps it's time to change the 'candy culture' of Halloween. Hand out quarters or dimes instead. Chances are coinage won't end up in a landfill.

11 people like this
Posted by Midtown member
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 3, 2018 at 10:29 am

We are a young family who recently moved to Palo Alto and dear neighbors who posted here, it is your homes we want to visit to trick or treat! We want our children to grow up knowing our neighbors and long time residents, not where the technocrati live!

Please don’t shut down your Halloween celebrations, how about this instead: next year, please post your address and those of us with kids who want Halloween to be about our community instead of commerce will come by with our kids. I am happy to take the initiative to set up a publicly accessible map if there isn’t one already. Let’s keep the spirit alive!

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Posted by shane246
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 3, 2018 at 11:50 am

so that's where all the kids were this time. Most of my neighbors didn't even bother to put even a pumpkin or light outside and one neighbor offered oranges instead of candy last year. I don't blame the kids.

8 people like this
Posted by Bring back the Trick Factor
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 3, 2018 at 1:55 pm

> neighbor offered oranges instead of candy last year. I don't blame the kids.

I know someone who did this once. A genuine cheapskate who gave away the oranges from his backyard tree...undersized, dirty and occasionally bruised ones. It is surprising that his house didn't get TP'ed or egged.

Perhaps the key to maintaining the spirit of Halloween is to bring back the 'trick' factor in full force. Then people will start paying more attention to this one night fesitivity.

3 people like this
Posted by sugary tax
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 3, 2018 at 2:54 pm

Should the proposed soda tax on sugary drinks be extended to cover candies?

Living through evolutionary times can be challenging but let's not resort to attacking others in the community. Let us embrace diversity and reasonable
difference of opinions to keep the community open, secure, welcoming for
everyone to have their identity and still be a valuable contributing member.

In this time of social network, we are supposed to be well connected but it
appears that we do not know our neighbors well. Do we need a Halloween to
reconnect? Or should this Halloween experience be taken as a sign to reconnect?
I don't know the answer but merely encouraging such lines of thinking..

When parents get disappointed they seem to vent on "Townsquare". So when children
get disappointed they vent on (anti-?)social media - is that what goes on?

Finally, the arguments such as "I was here first", "It used to be" or similar
incontrovertible facts should instead highlight the values of the traditions
as there may be other ways to achieve the same or more in these evolving times.

2 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 3, 2018 at 10:09 pm

The people of Palo Alto are reaping what they have sewn. Neighborhoods like Old PA and Professorville are now so insanely expensive that no young families can possibly afford to live here. Now there are few children left to come to your doors on Halloween.

Stop trying to block new housing at every turn, and young families with an income merely in the high 6 to low 7 digits might be able to live here, rather than old people and foreign investors with incomes in the 8 or 9 or 10 digits.

1 person likes this
Posted by Housing question: where will it go
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 4, 2018 at 7:43 am

Housing question: where will it go is a registered user.

@Joe -- I am not aware of many people pushing back on housing, though there are some.

The main question I am aware of is where will it go. Some folks are suggesting we rezone public property for housing (e.g., parking lots, Cubberley). Others want to rezone commercial property for housing. I am in favor of the latter -- we have too much office space, and too little public facility space. I do hope we build some housing, along with the services that need to go along with it (school capacity, park space, retail, and so on). I hope that we grow in a deliberate and planned way, not in a panicked and reactionary way.

I think to date that most housing developments have been in South Palo Alto. I'm curious to see if we keep that up, specifically densifying that area of the City, or if we distribute the housing more widely.

2 people like this
Posted by Competition?
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 5, 2018 at 1:45 pm

Its not a competition is it? Jobs and other such wealthy residents are creating a neat/festive atmosphere for the community .. its open for all. They can afford it and they are welcoming everyone - a lot to be appreciated for this attitude.

For the other 95% in Palo Alto, well yes, we have seen the numbers go down. The numbers are drastically lower, if the event falls on a school day. A few years ago, when Halloween was on a Saturday, our door bell rang non stop till 9:30pm. This year, by 7:30pm there were hardly any kids walking around ..

The parents have to change their attitudes and make it a point to instill the "walk around the neighborhood" .. sure, you can go enjoy the big-wigs ( let's admit, the decorations are one of a kind -- no kid should miss out on them ) but then make sure to walk around your own street too.

Its the parents who need to have a change of heart.

2 people like this
Posted by Less candy = Less Money Wasted
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 5, 2018 at 1:50 pm

Once upon a time, some neighbors complained about having to answer the door past 9:00PM to hand out candy. A few even ran out of candy at times.

Now people are complaining about the rich folks who create Halloween theme parks on their property.

There is no pleasing anyone.

8 people like this
Posted by Trick or Treating for Booze
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2018 at 5:48 pm

In our immediate neighborhood, most of the neighbors know each other and when we take the kids out trick or treating, we get a treat too.

It is an informal gesture where the adult answering the door also gives the accompanying adult a small 'airline' bottle of booze...usually vodka or bourbon.
A couple of shots while walking the kids makes for an enjoyable evening. A couple of parents have gotten inebriated along the way but these occasions are rare.