Worthington's Halloween Trail tradition entering its 22nd yearWORTHINGTON — There are many times when a person looks back to his or her childhood. It was an October from my past that I first heard the cry “Tricks or Treats.”
By: Al Swanson, Daily Globe Historical Columnist, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — There are many times when a person looks back to his or her childhood. It was an October from my past that I first heard the cry “Tricks or Treats.” Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles recalled from their childhood and passed on that cry to a younger generation. It is a tradition that was a part of my younger years, and I then passed it on. Actually “Tricks or Treats” can only be learned from someone who has experienced it.
After Labor Day each year, Pioneer Village closes its 45 buildings for the rest of the year to open next May. However; there are two times in that period that the Village is opened to observe the traditions of Halloween and Christmas.
Almost everyone will remember, from their past, Oct. 31. They learned it from their elders and then passed it on at the next Oct. 31. An older generation might not remember, but children will never forget that begging for “treats” is legitimate on Halloween.
The first Halloween Trail, as it is referred to at Pioneer Village, came there in 1988. Since that Oct. 31, records show that almost 10,000 children have walked the trail with their parents or elders — that is over 15,000 in twenty-two years at Pioneer Village. Those numbers will increase this year; by how much depends on the weather for that evening.
But the Halloween Trail does not exist without help. Every year in the week before Halloween, about two or three dozen high school students carve faces on the pumpkins collected that fall. What they look like will depend on the imagination these young people. Then on that day, the 31st of October, they will be at each stop on the Trail, to give “treats” to the younger generation. They will be costumed as to their imagination.
After the trail, everyone goes to the Fire Hall for cider and cookies. There is always coffee for their elders. After that, everyone will leave the Village at the Main Gate. This has been done for 21 years and will be repeated many times in the future.
How does this come about? On the first Halloween Trail, the Optimists organization in Worthington and Rune’s Furniture provided the funds needed that year. Now, more than a dozen stores and businesses have contributed much to the success over the years. Everyone who has walked the trail will not forget Oct. 31.
Al Swanson is president emeritus of the Nobles County Historical Society.