Is Halloween fun or a problem?

I get differing reports about Ludlow residents’ experience of Halloween. Many people love it. Others find trick and treating disturbing.

Guy Fawkes night has faded somewhat here and few people burn a guy anyone. Festivities have moved towards Halloween. A few years back, I used to love being in Los Angeles at Halloween. Kids and adults created incredible displays in their gardens, full of witches, warlocks and ghouls. Trick and treat was strictly controlled and pre-booked, but after all, this was Los Angeles.

In Ludlow, I get reports about trick and treat being aggressive. I know people who don’t open their doors on Halloween night. Some leave chocolates outside. Others grow frustrated at the repeated knocking and banging.

The tradition of bumming treats or a bit of cash is not new to our culture. In my boyhood we collected “a penny for the guy”. And yes, it was always me with my unkempt hair that was dressed up in rags to play the guy as I was wheeled around the streets of Northampton in a barrow.

To take a different tack on this, Lib Dem care and support minister Norman Lamb says today that “schizo-patient” Halloween costumes are stigmatising people with mental illnesses. He says:

“This Halloween culture is dangerous. It conditions all of us to fear mental illness – to see people as ‘psychos’, or ‘schizos’ or ‘freaks’. It makes us believe that mental illness is something other worldly.

I agree with this.

So is Halloween just great fun or a problem? I haven’t seen any schizo or psycho costumes in Ludlow. I hear reports of bad behaviour on Halloween, but is it just annoyance or more serious?

As always, let me know your views and experiences.