WENTWORTH – Halloween was once a religious event called All Hallows' Evening on Oct. 31 preceding All Saints' Day on Nov. 1, which was established by the Christian Church in the 800s A.D. so that pagans could continue their festivals before they became Christians.
By the 1840s, the Irish and Scots brought their Halloween customs, now secular and not religious, to North America and by the 1930s, Halloween was a celebration involving trrick-or-treating and entertainment.
In Wentworth some parents drive their children to houses for a trick or treat and for those who stay in their homes to greet the children and teens usually have a small number of visitors. Because of road traffic, it is considered too dangerous to have young people walking from house to house especially in the rural areas. Now it is common for a community organization to organize an event in a building where both parents and children can gather together for a program.
In the past in Wentworth when the road was gravel and much safer for walking at night, many children ages 10 and older walked to community houses for the trick-or-treat and, and at times would make noise and play tricks before knocking on doors to ask a favour. Later, a paved road and heavy traffic made it too dangerous to walk at night along the roads and people had to drive their children from house to house.
Finally, community organizations began planning Halloween programs for all ages including costume parades, dances, bonfires, but still concentrating on trick-or-treating for the young.
This year, for the 10th consecutive year, the Wentworth Volunteer Fire Department held a Halloween party at their fire hall for the community young and old. Although some families stayed at home to welcome trick-or-treaters, usually not many showed up unless there was a big house party for all ages. Many parents chose to take themselves, their teens and children to the fire hall in Wentworth.
The fire trucks were removed from the Hall to the outside leaving room for programs inside the hall. This past Halloween there were 80 trick-or-treating children and teens and 20 community members, including several firefighters, who passed out treats or dropped off treats prior to the beginning program.
The fire hall was decorated by Jack O' Lanterns, pumpkins donated by the Wentworth Learning Centre and then carved by Jessica Palmer and Caleb Seymour.
All the youngsters asked for a treat instead of doing a trick, but as a joke Barbara Palmer, Municipal Councillor for District 6 and a worker at this Halloween party, brought in a trick consisting of a bucket of jelly worms amid much laughter. It was a good trick because the jelly worms could be eaten and were given out as treats.
Most of the young at this party were dressed in costumes which varied as follows: “dressed up” in nice clothes, dressed as popular television characters, dressed as Super Heroes, dressed as cowboys, dressed as princesses, dressed as farmers, dressed as ghosts, or dressed as animals.
As youngsters came in for a treat, they were given a ticket to keep as the two winners of two prizes would be announced at the end of the evening. The special prizes were two four foot tall inflatable characters: Marshall the Fire Dog from TV program Paw Patrol and a Minion from popular movie Despicable Me.
At the end of the evening, the two prize winners were drawn from the box of tickets by fire chief Kevin Sprague and the two winners were announced as Taylor Flanagan and Steven Smith.
The members of the Wentworth Volunteer Fire Department are to be congratulated for their time, hard work, and talents in creating such a great program for all ages, but with an emphasis on the young.
Another congratulation needs to be extended to the volunteer staff who helped make the evening a success. A special thanks to municipal councilor Barbara Palmer, who helped as a volunteer staff worker, and who took the photos which she sent to me for this column.