Friday, October 30, 2009

A tradition like no other! Happy Beggars' Night!

Des Moines has a tradition that researchers say no other town in the United States does. It started in the 1930s when the city listed the names of vandals every November 1 and the list kept getting longer and longer. This was disturbing to everyone - what to do?

In order to stem the trouble being caused on Halloween, the city’s parks and recreation director, a woman, said that homes should turn on lights and do the things we all know about on Beggars' Night/Halloween, but she also said adults shouldn’t give out treats to children unless the children either told a joke or did a trick like a cartwheel or sang a simple song.

It began to work and within a few years, the vandalism problems were significantly reduced.

This is still a tradition around Des Moines. Some other towns in Iowa have apparently gotten in on it, but typically you'll hear people from other towns say they'd never heard of it before.

I think it is genius. This is the reason I turn on my porch light.

I give less candy to any children who won't participate. I first offer a simple joke they can repeat. Then I suggest something like can they cross their last two fingers instead of the first two. If they won't do it...well, the trick's on you. I know, I sound like an evil person, don't I?

Well I am not. I do not torture little children with this. It's the older kids I pick on. Hey, if they can't join in, they shouldn't be out trick or treating!

This year is different for me, though. I get to take my niece out trick or treating. If we get back to my MIL's house in time, I get to hand out candy. Then I can put my evil plan to work. [rubs hands expectantly]

Last Wednesday night on the way to church, I asked the kids if they had their jokes ready. They did. Poor Ernest, though. He got the interrupting cow joke wrong and said:

Knock, knock
Who’s there?
Cow who?


Aunt Becky said...

That's a really cool idea! I wish we did that out here. Although, there's not a lot of vandalism or mischief making that goes on (shockingly).

dsmcaron said...

I don't think we have trouble on Halloween, either. Obviously societ was much worse in the 1930s. ;)

Cha Cha said...

OMG - I am 34 years old and the impatient cow joke still makes me laugh every time. Ha!

Rambling Woods said...

That is a really great idea...

Caron said...

I love this joke! It's one of my favorites. I have screwed it up before, though. Even simple jokes trip me up.