by Tonya Brantley
Most any child will tell you that their favorite holiday, aside from Christmas of course, is Halloween. The word Halloween is really a result of fast talking slurs of the phrase to go "All Hallowe'en", which meant to go out on October 31st and celebrate All Hallow's Evening, which got shortened to All Hallow's Even' and then to Halloween.
The tradition of dressing up in a Halloween costume came about because on All Hallow's Eve, people in Europe were still nervous about leaving their homes at night and so they often disguised themselves with masks and costumes so that the evil spirits who were out roaming wouldn't recognize them. Many dressed up like the spirits they wanted to avoid; ghosts, witches and goblins.
On this special night each year, it is customary for youngsters to dress up in costume and go house to house asking for treats, usually candy, with the familiar question, "trick-or-treat?" That's why on October 31st, homeowners should always have a treat on hand to give out to those who come knocking, otherwise they might get a trick, which refers to an idle threat to perform mischief on the homeowners or their property if no treat is given.
When I was a child growing up in the eighties, my mom would take my older brother and I trick-or-treating on Halloween night. Mom would drive us to historical downtown Cleveland, TN to the neighborhoods around my grandparent's house because we lived in the country where very few homeowners participated in the festivities (which may have been the reason so many homes in the country got TP'd). We would go door to door filling up our bags with candy and treats dressed up as our favorite scary monster or T.V. character. One of my earliest costume memories was when I dressed up as Wonder Woman with a plastic mask resembling her face that was held in place by a rubber band and a "poncho-like" plastic cloak designed to resemble her outfit. That year, my brother dressed up in a similar plastic costume designed as The Incredible Hulk from the eighties T.V. series.
For many Cleveland residents, it has been a yearly tradition since 1986, whether young or old, to visit the downtown Halloween Block Party around the courthouse square and enjoy food, music, games, costume contests and of course, fill those bags with treats. However, for my brother and I, we couldn't let Halloween pass us by without a visit to Centenary Avenue.
Before the Block Party originated and became the normal destination for the Halloween crowd, the majority of local residents would pay a visit to Centenary Avenue where each year homeowners go all out with decorations and invite trick-or-treaters into their haunted houses, and (in my opinion) hand out the best treats!