Biff America: A frightening history
“The scariest thing I’ve seen is the death of Halloween. No treats for the children, just all these grown up tricks.”
Those lyrics, found in a Greg Brown song, lament the loss of innocence and the growing fear and dividedness in modern America. Certainly America might be less innocent and more divisive than in the past, but I don’t believe our nation is any more dangerous. Only now, bad stuff is readily available on your phone.
Halloween still flourishes in Summit County. I would not want to live in a community where it does not.
In the wild old days, with the help of various intoxicants, Halloween in the High Country was like Sodom and Gomorrah with thin air. Families and kids would roam the streets at twilight trick or treating, and later in the night adults would rage in the local bars until 2 a.m. I’d often be working, either as a waiter, bartender or, in the later years, acting as the master of ceremonies for some sort of bar event. I came home from one such event to find my new girlfriend, now wife, sleeping in my half-full bathtub covered by a wet blanket and not quite sure how she got there.
The truth is, for the past several years, the holiday has been more of a spectator sport for us. Though Ellie is often confused with Wonder Woman and I am dead ringer for a Rockette due to my shapely legs, we have not dressed up for the holiday.
That said, Halloween is a festival I look forward to yearly. The holiday comes during a slow time of the year in our tourist town and is the one event that is mostly for the residents and families. After a busy summer, before a busier winter and before the weather turns too frigid, it is a last gasp of snowless fun.
It was only a few years ago when my mate and I would sit on our porch waiting for the local kids to show up. Ellie would hand out chocolate while I would try to guess their costumes. As well as the usual stand by — boys dressed as superheroes, cowboys and zombies, and little girls as princesses, demons and Kellyanne Conway — there were amazing displays of imagination and crafts.
Usually, the littlest kids would be accompanied by parents wearing a hastily cobbled together costume. I will say, seeing adults covered by sheets and dressed as ghosts kind of gave me the creeps. That all began when I read that certain conservative, religious sects use a sheet with a hole cut in it to consummate their marriage on their honeymoon. When those sheet-covered adults would show up at my door, I always wondered if they wanted something other than a Snickers bar.
Unfortunately, no one comes to our house anymore. The past few years I’ve sat by the door like the Elephant Man on prom night waiting for the costumed rugrats to show up demanding sugar. By 9 p.m., I had consoled myself that my neighborhood had changed, and I was wishing I had bought the costly, organic treats since I’d be eating them myself.
What once was a street of mostly families now has more second homes and rentals.
I’m proud that some parts of our county cling to the carnival. I’ve long felt that a robust celebration of Allhallows Eve is one of the ways that we’ve held fast to the idea that we are not only a resort but, more importantly, a community. And though my hood was as quiet as Aaron Rodgers at a science-themed trivia night, a half mile uphill Halloween was thriving. So I filled the basket of my bicycle with cavity magnets and pedaled there.
My plan was to be a rolling purveyor of sweets to the kids. In retrospect, I should have thought it through a little better.
My mate was recovering from knee surgery, so I bicycled off solo. The streets were full of children and families and even some costumed dogs. Other than more reflective clothing and politically-correct outfits, the scene might have been one from a bygone era being lamented as lost.
I can’t say I gave out any chocolate that night; you know what they say about best-laid plans. Once on scene, I decided going up to strange children and asking, “Hey kids, want some candy?” could prove Greg Brown correct. So I coasted home and shared some organic chocolate with my Wonder Woman.
Jeffrey Bergeron’s column “Biff America” publishes Mondays in the Summit Daily News. Bergeron has worked in TV and radio for more than 30 years, and his column can be read in several newspapers and magazines. He is the author of “Mind, Body, Soul.” Bergeron arrived in Breckenridge when there was plenty of parking and no stop lights. Contact him at email@example.com.
Jeffrey Bergeron’s column “Biff America” publishes Mondays in the Summit Daily News. Bergeron has worked in TV and radio for more than 30 years, and his column can be read in several newspapers and magazines. He is the author of “Mind, Body, Soul.” Bergeron arrived in Breckenridge when there was plenty of parking and no stoplights. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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