With my eye on the score of the Rangers game, Angela and I took a walk last night through Highland Park to see what Halloween is like in a very affluent neighborhood.
According to Wikipedia, Highland Park is the 3rd wealthiest location in Texas; 19th in the country (with at least 1,000 people). Thousands go through Highland Park between Thanksgiving and the New Year to see all of the beautiful decorations on the mansions. Halloween is also a fantastic time to see the great lengths people go through to create a ghoulish scene at their homes.
Highland Park is in the heart of Dallas, Texas. Dallas, itself, is not doing as well. More than 20% of people in Dallas live below the poverty level. When you break it down by age, it jumps to 33% of children under the age of 18. That's more than 107,000 kids.
Last night, it looked like this population went to Highland Park for candy.
As Angela and I saw hundreds of people gathered on each block of Highland Park, I couldn't help but think about a British Commonwealth holiday called Boxing Day.
Boxing Day traditionally is the day after Christmas. We don't celebrate this holiday in most of the United States -- likely because it seems too socialist -- but it does pop up occasionally. Boxing Day is a day where people give back. Many times it was a form of spring cleaning, during which people would box up the old items that were replaced by this year's Christmas gifts, and then they would give them to the house servants or other service people. It has somewhat transformed into a time to give money and other gifts, also.
Halloween as Boxing Day
It's a well-known "secret" that Highland Park and its sister town, University Park, employee many people in the service industry. A vast majority of them only speak Spanish. Just ask the staff at Christ's Family Clinic at Preston Road Church of Christ. Last night, Spanish-speaking chidren and parents outnumbered English-speaking families at least 2 to 1; Latinos outnumbered white people about 8 to 1. Every house that was giving out candy gave generously and with a smile.
As great as it was, the whole night gave me an uneasy feeling.
It was great seeing all of the children having a wonderful time at the Halloweeny homes, but there were a few troubling aspects of the evening. I've bulleted them below:
- Too many cars: Since everyone had to drive to HP, they parked in front of all of the houses on both sides of the narrow streets. This made it hard to drive through, and it also made it harder to see small children crossing the street. I almost saw one small child smashed by a large truck. Thank God the driver was going very slow.
- Too many people: On one block on Bordeaux, so many kids had come through the area that people were on the steps just to tell kids they didn't have anymore candy. One house left had candy, and there were between 75 and 100 kids on the front lawn trying to get candy before this house ran out, too.
- It's candy: Kids love candy, but kids don't need candy. What lesson is being taught when you go through so much trouble just to get some candy?
- Something is wrong with other neighborhoods: The fact that so many people flood to Highland Park not only says something about Highland Park, but it also says a lot about their own neighborhoods. Is it just cheaper candy, or is there also the danger of wandering around at night in their 'hood? I'd say it's as much the latter as the prior.
Overall, Angela and I walked home amazed at what we had just witnessed. The Halloween decorations and music were great, but we were speechless about the whole experience. I walked away asking myself, "Is there a better way?" How can we provide for the children in our community without going to this extent? I honestly do not know. Part of me loves that these kids had a fantastic night. But the other part is a little sick about the way it had to happen.
As always, I welcome your thoughts.