By Amy Bayer, Alexandria
To the editor:
After Halloween on Lee Street this year, I am officially giving up the ghost. I won’t be participating next year.
Churlish, perhaps, but something’s got to give. As a 20-year resident of Lee Street, I’ve seen Halloween deteriorate from a fun neighborhood tradition to an absurd carnival that now attracts thousands of people.
On past Halloweens, we strolled the streets and visited neighbors who held open houses to greet friends. Now we man battle stations following trips to Costco for carts full of candy that are never quite enough.
I confess that it’s partly my fault. I was one of a group of residents who petitioned the city to close off a few blocks of South Lee to traffic several years ago. At the time, we worried that as the attraction of Halloween in Old Town grew, the kids darting from one lavishly decorated house to another were increasingly at risk of getting hit by one of the many cars cruising the streets just for the show.
Now, in a classical case of good intentions gone bad, the cars are gone but we’ve become ground zero in a street festival that has concentrated trick-or-treating onto a few blocks of insanity while other blocks go without little witches, princesses and pirates.
This year, a radio station set up shop down the block after rabidly promoting our neighborhood Halloween to the entire metropolitan area. I stopped counting when the 2,000th trick-or-treater came to my door.
At times, my stoop was surrounded, with people packed 10-deep across the sidewalk and into the street. Big kids pushed little kids out of the way in a frenzied race from door to door as adults begged for candy for babies who don’t yet have the teeth to eat it.
Remember the group or Halloween revelers who walked the block a couple of years ago with picket signs reading “Occupy Lee Street”? It was funny precisely because it was so true. Perhaps now we should be talking about returning some sanity to the situation so that all of Old Town can again take part in the fun.