Five years ago, when my husband and I bought our house on Kalispell’s historic east side, we met all our neighbors in what seemed like days. Everyone was so welcoming and friendly! Our quick introduction to our neighbors likely had less to do with meeting the new couple and more with ensuring that we were aware and well prepared for the biggest event in the neighborhood: Halloween. As we unloaded boxes and walked our dogs around the block, we were stopped many times and informed about how big of a deal trick-or-treating is. Did we plan to have candy? What about decorations? Are you ready for this? Of course we are, we replied. Later, we wondered, why are they making this such a big deal? How big of an event could this really be?
A week before Halloween the former owner of our house sent us an email with the subject line reading something like: “Important House Information!” I thought, oh no, what’s wrong with this beautiful house that we just bought? Did we miss something serious in an inspection? What’s wrong with the place we so longed to call our own? Well, George didn’t have anything specific about the house, but he wanted to warn us that Halloween was a serious deal on the east side and that he felt it was his due diligence to prepare us for the onslaught of costumed kids who roamed the neighborhood. He said to prepare for hundreds, maybe even thousands. It’s a lot of fun, he wrote, but you need to know that it’s very important. You’ll need a lot of candy. You can’t just turn off your lights and not participate. Or else …
As new neighbors, we started to feel the Halloween pressure. Elaborate decorations began to dress houses and yards. Skeletons hung from trees, cobwebs swallowed porches, and brick homes transformed into haunted mansions. My two little pumpkins on the front steps looked rather underdressed. On Halloween, around 4:45 p.m., our doorbell rang. My husband and I thought we were prepared. We had candy. His parents were going to join us as they wanted to see all the costumes. We even dressed up ourselves. We forgot to put a table and a chair on the steps, figuring we’d simply answer the door when it rang, and in between the cries for candy, we would sit on the couch or putz in the kitchen. At 5:01 p.m. I couldn’t even close the door. I looked up the avenue only to see that the thousands of witches, firefighters, princesses, and bloody zombies had formed into an ocean, moving in waves up and down the street, spilling onto the sidewalks and running through yards. Our candy supply was quickly dwindling. I yelled to my husband: “We need backup! Call your parents to get here now. And tell them to buy more candy! We’re not going to make it!”
Thanks to my in-laws we had just enough candy to last us until almost 9 p.m. Once we turned off the lights, the four of us collapsed on the couch. “Wow” was all I could muster. My father in law, who’s favorite holiday is, in fact, Halloween, turned to me and said: “You live in the best neighborhood.”
I couldn’t agree more. And over the years, I’ve added more decorations and stockpiled candy.
Maggie Doherty is the owner of Kalispell Brewing Company on Main Street.