I’ve always loved Hallowe’en in a special way. First, it’s the one festival that’s really about connecting with strangers or casual acquaintances rather than family. Really, when else do you go out banging on random neighbours’ doors asking for something — or open your door to random groups of strangers in weird outfits? And people see it as a sign of neighbourhood health, usually trading numbers of kids the next day as a badge of honour.
I also love it because of the way it gives you this once-a-year sociological snapshot of your neighbourhoood. When I first moved into the house I’m in now — a much more inner-city neighbourhood near Fraser and Broadway than the previous near suburbia I’d been in close to the PNE — the stream of people on Hallowe’en was wild and surprising. We had more than 100 callers at our door, ranging from young women who looked like they were taking a break from working Broadway a block away (at first I thought they were in costume, but then realize they were not) to young guys in their 20s claiming they were gathering candy for the “baby at home” to a United Nations of Chinese, Vietnamese, South Asian, Filipino, and native Indian kids, with some Caucasians.
This year, it felt quite different. It seemed to be the year of the guys taking out their kids. I couldn’t, in the brief time we had at the door, figure out if there’s been a sudden influx of gay parents into our ‘hood, what with all the pairs of adult males standing on the sidewalk monitoring the little ones’ interactions at the door, or whether they were just buddies who’d teamed up while their respective wives stayed at home. There was also just more, the gay/buddy dads included, of a west side feel to the crowd. I spotted any number of people who looked like they belong to masters’ swim clubs or run triathlons (that’s code for boomer professional, in case you don’t get it).
We still got a fair contingent of Vancouver’s multicult community, particularly South Asian and Chinese. But they were definitely fewer overall. All of which matches what I’ve been hearing from various demographic number-crunchers about how Vancouver is changing and where the kids are going. Mount Pleasant is one of the areas where there’s been the biggest drops in the kid population, and you see it on Halloween night. The young professional couples are moving in (a nurse-practicioner and her lawyer husband bought the nondescript bungalow across the street and have been fixing up ever since) and the immigrant families, who used to find some of the cheapest housing in the city, are slowly moving elsewhere.
Our street was still lively and fun (we have some serious Hallowe’en decorators), but this year, the count was 68 kids instead of 100.
So we got to polish off a few mini-Snickers and bowls of ju jubes ourselves, while we ended the night watching Rebecca (Manderley, oh Manderley) and listening to the fireworks going off outside, while our all-black cat snuggled close for protection.