As we haven’t had a good trick or treating since we were in San Diego in 2011, the girls were on pins and needles for days leading up to this years All Hallows’ Eve in Auckland. They had their costumes planned out for weeks (Potato Bug Leah and Holly the Fairy, again). We invited one of Leah’s best girlfriends from school and her mum along with us for company (and to show us the best local spots for free candy). After a dinner of bloodied boiled brains (i.e. spaghetti) we set out into the bright evening springtime streets of Freeman’s Bay.
We wandered down the street and eventually ended up near an apartment complex. We were the only trick or treaters around. In fact, the street was so empty we wondered if we had the date wrong at first. Finally we spotted something — a picture of a pumpkin on the door of a nearby apartment. It was kind of difficult to see through the flower blossoms.
The three girls ran up to the door and knocked. They jumped back a bit when it opened and a nice looking woman poked her head out. Then they remembered to say “Trick or treat!” She smiled at them and tossed a handful of candy into each of their bags. Success!
Wandering around a bit more we came across a few other decorated doors. Eventually we passed another small group of trick or treaters, kids the girls’ recognized from school. They’d just come from Anglesea street, and told us that was the street to hit so we continued on that way.
The first few houses were dark and the little white picket fence gates were closed so we continued on. Above us clouds were starting to spit out rain so we tried to hustle the girls along in case they decided to open up (which can happen at any moment in Auckland). We came to a little house that had a group of young chaps hanging out on the front porch, sipping glasses of white wine. One of them was dressed like a zombie so we figured they might be game. Our trick or treaters were rewarded with a bit more candy in their bags.
A little bit farther up the street we found a house with the gate open and a note tacked to the door: “Only knock IF you can answer a riddle…have you got what it takes to claim a reward?” The girls hesitated, unsure, but then knocked. The door was opened by a fellow wearing a bright yellow character suit. He grinned at them and asked if they knew which Pokemon he was. He was answered by blank stares, from all of us. We waited. Finally, he announced that he’d make an exception due to age (too young on the girls’ part, too old for ours, apparently) and candy was dished out.
By this time, it was raining full force and we hid under a carport for a few minutes while we waited for the cloud to pass. We looked into the window near us and watched a little Halloween party happening with everyone cozily sipping drinks and plates of treats on the tables. We were thinking those people had the right idea.
As we knew it would, the rain eased after 10 minutes or so and we continued on. More dark houses. Then we were thrilled to come across one that was decorated in the good old American style with huge fake spiders and cobwebs, a bloody “KEEP OUT” sign strung across the tall solid white gate. Which was locked. Hmm. We kept walking.
Another brightly lit house a few houses down. The girls walked up the path and knocked eagerly on the stained glass door, no longer nervous. An older fellow answered. We had hung back and overheard him saying things like “Oh dear, let me check,” and saw him go into the house. He came back a minute later. “I don’t seem to have anything. I’m so sorry. Oh wait a minute.” He was gone again for a minute and returned. “I have some money, but I only seem to have $50 notes…” Behind him a woman was wrapped in a towel, having just gotten out of the shower. We finally realized what was going on and waved to him, telling him not to worry about it. He appeared relieved.
It was dark by this time and the last few houses we’d visited while walking back on the other side of the street appeared to have emptied their candy bowls into the girls’ treat bags. Or as happened a number of times, the person who answered disappeared into the house for a bit and returned with a small bag of candy they must have retrieved from the pantry. Much of the candy in the girls bags were unwrapped chocolate pieces, marshmallows, gummy bits, pineapple lumps. We all ate some along the way.
We decided to try one last lit house on our way back to our flat. After the girls proudly declared “Trick or treat!” we could hear the woman who answered the door apologize profusely, saying that she’d just gotten home from work and didn’t have any candy. The girls didn’t mind; with their treat bags bulging and their feet and legs tired we continued on up the dark and empty street to bed.
It certainly wasn’t the San Diego Halloween of 2011, a thronging street party with houses decorated like Hollywood sets and people handing out full-sized Snickers bars and bags of M&Ms. Auckland Halloween 2013 was just as fun though, to experience people trying out this holiday that is a bit new to New Zealand and watching them see how fun a night of silliness with neighbors can be.