Halloween not so scary in Hinsdale

As a kid, Halloween was one of my favorite holidays. I loved the start of fall, the weather getting cooler and the leaves changing colors, as well as the spookiness of the season. But even more than that, I loved how Halloween made October feel so special. In the midst of a busy reality - with tests, homework and extracurriculars - the world just seemed more like a fantasy whenever the holiday came around.

And Hinsdale always did the best job of making Halloween feel special.

For years, one of my favorite traditions was the downtown trick-or-treating hosted by the Hinsdale businesses a couple of weeks before Halloween. I loved getting dressed up in whatever costume I had picked that year and going into town with my family and friends, orange plastic jack-o'-lantern in hand.

On actual Halloween, all of the families did their part to make the day special for the kids. All of the houses were decked out in cobwebs and colored lights, with ghosts hanging from trees and "witches" guarding the candy buckets at the door. Practically every house I went to handed out candy and took part in the Halloween festivities.

My family was one of those houses. Every year, my dad would cook chili and turn on the soundtrack to John Carpenter's "Halloween," which helped label our house the "scary music house." After a long night of trick-or-treating, my friends and I would come back to my house, eat my dad's chili, and watch "Halloween" while stuffing our faces with candy. It was always one of my favorite nights of the year.

In college, Halloween looks a little different. While I still might get dressed up and go out with friends, I don't get to enjoy my dad's chili, I don't spend my night in the "scary music house" and, although I've gotten almost all my college friends invested, my dad isn't there to enjoy the annual watching of "Halloween." I don't feel childish excitement on Oct. 31 anymore, just a little nostalgia.

But what I do think about is all the kids in Hinsdale who are experiencing those magical Halloweens that I experienced. Who are dressed up as Princess Belle or Luke Skywalker, and, for one night, get to pretend to be their role models. I think of the parents whose faces light up at the sight of these kids at their doors. It's the families that have always made Halloween in Hinsdale so special, and it's the families who will continue to make it special each year, long after I'm all grown up.

So this Oct. 3, I'll again turn on "Halloween," happy to know that back in Hinsdale, my dad, mom and brother are probably watching it, too. And I'll be even happier to know that the next generation of Hinsdale families is carrying on a magical tradition.

- Katie Hughes of Hinsdale, a junior at the University of Georgia, is a contributing columnist. Readers can email her at [email protected].