Looking Back: Halloween mischief

Published 5:40 pm Friday, October 25, 2019

Halloween parties and fall festivals in schools and communities end the month of October and offer fun, prizes and treats.

But this has not always been the case. In past generations, Oct. 31 was an evening of unadulterated mischief.

Gates went missing from fences, the cow was mooing uncomfortably from the neighboring church belfry and almost all local store windows were liberally scribbled over in soap, according to articles in The Advocate-Messenger archives.

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That began to change in the 1940s when celebrations switched from witches to fun.

“Police with night sticks were called to unseat the old woman from her broomstick and cities across the nation began hosting parties for youngsters and offering treats.”

Merchants who had washed soap off their windows for years, began holding annual Halloween parties for the youth and many were joined by their parents.

Youth clubs held costume parties and played traditional Halloween games.

“The new traditions have achieved some new twists to the old spooky celebration.”


Tricks customs


Many remember the time when pranksters soaped store windows and automobiles on Halloween night.

“We’ve always thought that a great number of Halloween tricks were a bit pointless, the prankster never staying around to enjoy the prank…merely continuing on his way, making more marks with soap he never returned to look at twice,” according to the Scribblings column published in The Advocate in 1929.

All this stopped after Danville police began to stop the “stupid Halloween prank of soaping.

“We believe the kids are as tired of it as we are and that something more original, more humorous, and less troublesome will be thought up for celebrating the event.”

The writer said he was “100 percent in favor of plenty of excitement and activity, short of wanton destructing. But we do think the kids could use more imagination, like those in Frankfort who had a “For Rent” sign on the Governor’s mansion and those in Danville who had one on our house this morning reading: ‘For Private Sale.’”


Violators warned


Local police officers requested cooperation of local parents, asking them to permit only the younger children to go out with masks for trick-or-treat rounds. They asked that children end their calls on neighborhoods by 8:30 p.m.

They said older teens would be punished if they damaged property, cut down trees to block roads, or set fires.


Collect for UNICEF


The U.N. Children’s Fund also was held each to raise money for millions of children and mothers in 118 countries.

The Danville UNICEF project began in the 1950s when members of a Sunday School class decided to collect pennies for needy kids abroad instead of candy for themselves. They raised $17.

The movement caught on fast and churches, schools and civic clubs began sending out legions of small fry armed with orange and black UNICEF cartons each Halloween.

The UNICEF program showed local young children that millions of other kids were growing up in sickness and need.

In 1963, more than 400 boys and girls between 6 and 14 years old from 12 local churches canvassed for UNICEF, returned their coin containers and got to enjoy refreshments or parties hosted by the women of the churches.

The event was sponsored by the United Church Women of Danville.


Fall Festival


The October 1927 Boyle County Fall Festival opened “In a blaze of glory” and those attending came away enthusiastic in their praise of the exhibits, especially of the many attractive booths of merchants and businessmen.

Farm and household articles were said to be the best ever seen in the Danville community.

The merchants spared no expense in beautifying the booths and visitors at the festival got their money’s worth inspecting the exhibits.

The local Masonic Band and Centre College Orchestra furnished music during the two-day event. The Royal Peacock Orchestra of Louisville, also entertained.

The Chamber of Commerce and Farm Bureau were in charge of booths, lights, advertising and entertainment for the event. Tickets were lowered to half price — 25 cents.