This is a unique Halloween as things go. Not only because it succeeded a superstorm of epic proportion, but because of the dichotomy of experiences this evening brings.
In our fortunate neighbourhood, one that many people of fortune call home, the Halloween decor recently reported on in the New York Times was righted and reinforced, and the streets were filled with crowds the like of which I have not seen outside of a real parade. When we were considering whether to trick or treat or stay home and hand out candy, we were cautioned about the crowds. The reality exceeded expectations.
Calvin romped about in his sea otter costume, and a number of people actually guessed it correctly! He isn’t a candy lover, so he enjoyed interacting with people much more. And in the wake of the storm, local businesses were out in full force dispensing candy to everyone on the street. Our favourite stop was our local, The London Candy Company.
We swung by the Carnegie Hill Neighbours Halloween Spooktacular, a costumed block party and also the arbiters of which neighbourhood town houses gets the best decorated award. It was a little too ghoulish, so we headed back home. That was when Calvin was inspired to want to give out candy. So we stocked up (or so we thought), set up on our front steps and were shocked that $30 of candy was dispensed in under 10 minutes.
Our neighbours across the street, who had decked out their brownstone in an amazing display of giant spiders and who had had an in-depth discussion with Calvin on the subject of fake vampire teeth, had been handing out candy for almost two hours at this point! According to others in the ‘hood, you need to stock up with just over 4,000 piece of candy for Halloween. Yikes! It seems that these blocks going south to around 79th street — where another block has amazing Halloween displays and full-sized candy handouts — attract the many kids who live in the neighbourhood and from Spanish Harlem, which makes for welcome diversity in trick or treaters.
While Halloween took place with rather more enthusiasm that normal, fired up by the cabin-fevered inhabitants of the Upper East Side, fifty blocks away New Yorkers were crowded around the electrical outlets set up to power the holiday lights in trees on the streets… to recharge their cellphones. In Midtown today, according to a colleague of mine who lives close enough to walk to work, banks had set up power strips for the power hungry and had opened their doors to the public. It’s the kind of scene I’m used to seeing when in developing countries, where you can make a living charging people to charge their phones.
Further out in Queens, New Jersey and Connecticut, friends and colleagues had no Halloween at all, save for the spooky quality of everything being pitch black or candlelit tonight, their third without power. I felt guilty answering the phone with the giddy sounds of kids having a great time to hear the good news that a family with two young children finally had heat and were looking forward to a hot meal tonight.
And what was the difference? Pure chance, just like being lucky’unlucky to be born to a particular circumstance. We feel very blessed to have been safe in this storm and have normalcy return so rapidly. We’re thinking very much of those whose lives have been severely disrupted.