Halloween here to stay

They all turned out for the Te Puke Halloween Trail last year – even robot superhero Optimus Prime.

Halloween trivia is as rich and fascinating as the history of the festival itself.

Did you know, for example, that a quarter of all lollies sold annually in the United States are purchased for Halloween? That’s a whole heap of candy – some 40,000,000 kilograms of chocolate alone during Halloween week.

Apparently, Halloween is the second-highest grossing commercial holiday after Christmas, and the Halloween parade through New York includes 50,000 participants and two millions spectators.

Te Puke’s second Halloween trick or treat trail is dwarfed by those numbers, but is gaining traction.

“It’s still excitingly big – a little bit big,” says Rebecca Larsen of Te Puke’s Epic events and promotions group.

Fifteen hundred people took part in the town’s Halloween trail last year. “It was buzzing, and the costumes were amazing,” says Rebecca. “It’s simply a fun community event.” A measure of its success was that it caused traffic jams in the town, and a couple of Tauranga suburbs have also picked up on the idea.

Te Puke is certainly a town that has embraced Halloween – a festival dating back 2000 years to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain – pronounced ‘sow-in’. 

The day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter – a time of year often associated with death. People would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off the ghosts.

When the Irish fled the potato famine for the United States, they took their Halloween traditions with them. Irish immigrants would pull naughty tricks on their neighbours, and the neighbours would bribe them with treats to stop them. It evolved into today’s trick or treating.

Rebecca questions the Halloween naysayers. “I don’t think some people understand it,” she says.

She lived in Toronto for eight years and has seen firsthand what it’s all about.

“It’s so much fun, with all the neighbours getting out and about and meeting each other in silly costumes. It’s all about having fun, and I think people got that when they came to our event last year.”

That Halloween fun happens all over again in Te Puke on Tuesday, October 31, from 3.30pm-5.30pm.

Kids and parents are invited to dress up and go trick or treating along a mapped pumpkin trail of participating businesses in the Te Puke CBD.

Treats will be handed out and there will be a variety of activities along the way, including street theatre, games and street food. Trail maps will be available at Te Puke Library and on the Epic Te Puke Facebook page.