By Rebecca Alwine, Army Spouse

The house is decorated, the candy bowl full, and the children are putting their final touches on their costumes. It’s time for Halloween! Trick-or-treating is a relatively new American tradition, gaining popularity since the 1930s. Military families living in military housing or out in town celebrate in various ways.

Some families gather in large groups and trick-or-treat through the neighborhoods in base housing, while others prefer to stay in their neighborhoods out in the community. There are so many events and opportunities to enjoy this holiday, it’s hard to decide what to participate in.

Trick-or-Treating in Military Housing

One thing I like about trick-or-treating on the installation, is the highly visible military police presence. They are out on bicycles, in patrol cars, and ready to keep our kids safe. I also really like that there is a set time to go out and everyone is aware of that time frame. I know a lot of communities out in town have a similar setup and that local law enforcement is active during the night, but as someone who likes living on post, I like being around my neighbors for events.

Making the Rounds Off Base

A benefit to living off post means no added security, so friends and family can visit easily. Jennifer Marner remembers, “When we lived in Hawaii, housing was open, lots of civilian families came around for trick-or-treating. We probably had 400 kids come by that year; it was awesome! We ran out of candy, so I grabbed Little Debbie snacks and school supplies from the closet.”

It’s all about the Experience

Becky Hart remembers her first Halloween in Guam, where her children could wear their warm weather costumes. “We moved from Minnesota to Hawaii to Guam, and it was nice not to need to plan a Halloween costume around a winter coat.”

Nicole Bushnell has done trick-or-treating both on and off the installation recently. “We took our kids off last year for trick-or-treating,” she said. “It was very cool! There were a lot more kids, but I feel like the experience was pretty similar overall. We knew what neighborhoods to avoid, which I think made a big difference.” Nicole’s experience on the installation was at Fort Wainwright and off was in the Fort Drum area.

“Only about every third house was prepared for kids off post. We were ready for a lot more children, which worked out for my kids in the end,” Kimberly Anderson remembers about her experiences living off the installation at Fort Bragg.

Amy Remy has another perspective altogether. For her family, it’s about finding an area that is wheelchair accessible. “Stairs or even just one raised portion prevents me from getting my child all the way to the door,” she said. “The neighborhoods off the installation are much more hit or miss regarding who is giving out candy.’

Make a Plan (Whether in Base Housing or Off Post)

One of the things I like most about trick-or-treating, whether in base housing or not, is doing it with friends. Throughout the past ten years, we’ve never done it alone! During a deployment, we’d rally together and share the roles of passing out candy and going door-to-door. In our neighborhoods we’d arrange a meeting place and the kids would head out together while the parents hung back, giving them a bit of independence.

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Rebecca Alwine is an Army spouse, freelance writer and mother of three. She’s a regular contributor to PCSgrades, ARMY Magazine, Homefront United Network, ESME, and has also been published in Ms. Magazine and The Atlantic. You can read her blog at www.whatrebeccathinks.com.

Rebecca Alwine

Army Spouse