It’s hard not to feel a bit nostalgic on this day when remembering the crazy Halloweens of old — back when Howell’s Washington Street was the center of the spooky universe for a few hours — when thousands of trick or treaters flooded the area the area for so much more than just sweet treats. Washington Street, for the unlucky amongst us who never experienced the magic, was a creatively subversive, grass-roots explosion of Halloween theater, complete with huge props and costumed humans.
That explosion of fun extended out around Washington Street, so that the entire southwest quadrant of Howell was drawn into the event.
We had been warned that we needed to be prepared for all the trick-or-treaters on Halloween, and that first year we didn’t take the warning seriously enough. We were inundated with hundreds and hundreds of kids (and one little monkey on a leash), and we ran out of treats before long.
After that initial Halloween, we were never caught off guard again.
So, were those Halloweens as big as I remember? Or did my memory exaggerate the events?
After perusing old issues of the Livingston County Press, I breathed a huge sigh of relief for the health of my memory. Here is some of what I found:
The biggest and most elaborate Halloween displays were at the Washington Street home of Arnie and Kathi Rubin. Here’s a story from Oct. 25 1995 about them preparing with friends for the memorable outer space-themed display on their front lawn.
So, just how many trick-or-treaters flooded Washington Street each year on Halloween? Enough to warrant closing the street.
And we couldn’t agree more with the move.
Halloween on Washington Street was a tradition that continued for years. Here is a story from 2000 about the Prout family’s decked out house.
And a column from yours truly about Halloween at my parent’s house on Washington Street.
And then this column five years later about the beginning of the end of the neighborhood’s reign as the center of the Halloween universe.
There are competing events, like the wondrous Legend of Sleepy Howell on the Saturday before Halloween, as well as numerous trunk-or-treat activities. Add in the changes in the neighborhood brought about by circumstances and time, and Halloween nights just aren’t the same. Last year, we crossed our fingers to get over 100 trick-or-treaters, and this year we bought less candy.
We are eternally thankful that we were here for Halloween’s apex. We are thankful, too, that our spirits remain forever grounded with the Washington Street Halloweens of old.