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As I sat staring idly through the Daily Press’ radioactive-green-cobweb-covered windows at the Art in the Park-bound passersby Saturday, I was debating with myself about writing a Halloween column.

Suddenly, the motion-activated bat hanging from the front door was triggered by a group of pedestrians. “TRICK OR TREAT!!!” it gleefully screamed at them. They jumped, startled, then laughed and went on their way.

The decision, at that point, was obvious.

I love Halloween. A holiday centered around channeling your inner child, being whatever your heart desires for a night, and candy?

There are no downsides to this scenario.

All Hallow’s Eve signals the start of the holiday season and usually brings with it those fall temperatures the Southwest is always a bit behind the rest of the nation in enjoying. A cool evening, a crisp breeze, the mystical purple hue of an autumn twilight, candles flickering from within lovingly carved jack-o-lanterns, and the sound of kids shrieking their way through the neighborhood. Norman Rockwell couldn’t paint that better.

Halloween will never be quite as wonderful as it was when we were kids, of course. Not to be a downer, but nothing will… that’s what happens when you have no responsibilities. Someone else puts up the decorations, buys the candy, purchases or sews your costume, throws the class party. In your kid-reality, that translates to: All of this stuff just magically appeared, and all I have to do is grab a bucket and go get free candy from people.

But I can clearly remember the excitement. McDonald’s was serving up Happy Meals in adorable pumpkin, witch or ghost pails. Sprouse Ritz was a thing in Artesia, and it was full of awesome Halloween treats and décor. The Moose Lodge’s Halloween carnival was on tap – an old tradition I was pleased to see the Lodge bring back this year – and the now-defunct Junior Women’s Club welcomed the public to Spooktacular at the Eddy County Fairgrounds.

When I was a teen, for one glorious year, the Artesia High School choir took over the old Spor-Tee site west of town and created a haunted house as a fundraiser. Artesians made the short drive in droves, and the choir did an impressive job of transforming the old arcade building and miniature golf course into nightmarish scenes. Unfortunately, it didn’t become a tradition.

For a time, there was a lack of community activities brewing up Halloween spirit, but that’s changed. Artesia MainStreet, the Artesia Historical Museum and Art Center, and the Artesia Public Library will team up again Saturday, Oct. 28, for Trick-or-Treat Main Street and the Dia de los Muertos celebration, and the Artesia Arts Council will join in the fun with “Nightfall with Edgar Allan Poe.”

Decorations are also prevalent throughout town – and if you happen to be heading to Carlsbad any time soon, be sure to stop by the display on the corner of Blodgett and Alameda… it’s truly inspired – and we can also count ourselves amongst the fortunate communities that’re still free to trick-or-treat in the old-fashioned tradition. No dictated start and stop times, no designated areas, just neighborhoods opening their doors to enthusiastic packs of witches, ghosts, clowns, Hogwarts students, and various figments of Tim Burton’s imagination.

The Daily Press will also be doing its best to add to the atmosphere in our Sunday, Oct. 29, edition, and we’d like to invite citizens to share their favorite short ghost stories, whether they’re real-life paranormal experiences or the tale that gave you the most goosebumps by the campfire as a kid… or something in between.

Deadline will be 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27, and stories may be dropped off at the Daily Press office, 503 W. Main St., or emailed to [email protected] You can choose to have your name printed with your submission or submit anonymously.

And while you may have a few more to-dos on your list than you did when you were 10, once they’re done, let down your hair, snap on your fangs, and act like a kid again. That’s what Halloween is really all about.

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