Quick, raise your hand if you don’t know what special day this is. No hands, so we suppose that means everyone knows this is Halloween.
The personal finance website WalletHub wove together some Halloween facts, including the best places in the United States to celebrate. Tops on the list is New York City. Los Angeles is No. 2, and San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Chula Vista, Irvine and Santa Ana all made it into the top 20.
We won’t take offense about Santa Barbara County communities not making the list. Maybe we are just a bit too small, or perhaps it’s the bad reputation this region acquired after years of Halloween mayhem in Isla Vista.
No matter, our guess is kids — and adults — will have a grand time this evening, with or without a national ranking for the most interesting scary places.
Halloween has become a very big deal in America, despite its relatively short history. The first recorded U.S. Halloween celebration occurred in the mid-1920s. And from that tiny acorn a giant oak has grown — and prospered.
Halloween is a retail bonanza as holidays go: More than $8.7 billion in total Halloween spending. More than $3 billion on costumes. The nation’s sweet tooth will be satisfied with the $2.6 billion being spent on candy — and your family dentist thanks you.
California plays a major role in Halloween — as demonstrated by the total number of cities on the top-20 list — because 2 billion pounds of pumpkins are grown each year, generally for the holiday season beginning with Halloween, and California is one of the major producers.
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Today’s holiday is serious big business overall. Scary movies grossed nearly a billion dollars in 2019. Haunted attractions haul in more than $300 million each Halloween season. The cool thing about that statistic is that 80 percent of haunted-house attractions raise money for local charities. Nearly $3.3 billion will be spent on costumes and accessories.
And then there’s all that candy. More than 85 percent of parents help their kids safely dispose of the candy haul — by eating it, most of them on the sly so the kids won’t notice. Again, the family dentist offers his or her gratitude.
That’s all the good stuff. What’s not so good is that Halloween is among the most dangerous nights of the year for children. Kids will be hit by cars and trucks tonight more than double the daily average for children-vs.-vehicle confrontations. It’s vitally important that parents make sure their little ones are protected, which is likely why nearly a third of grownups plan to trick-or-treat with their children, and those who don’t usually have a sit-down with the kids to discuss how to stay safe.
A word of advice for those adults not immersed in the Halloween spirit — drive super carefully. Halloween infuses children with unmitigated joy and the thrill of anticipation, which also compels them to dart out into the street. So, adults need to expect the unexpected, and drive accordingly.
More than 40 million kids will be on America’s streets and in our neighborhoods tonight, weather permitting. North County weather should be permitting.
Part of Halloween lore is that ringing doorbells and lighting candles are ways to keep witches, ghosts and other evil spirits at bay. It’s a fun thing that can be very distracting.
Keep all this in mind as you navigate outside this evening, whether walking or driving. Do your very best to prevent Halloween 2019 from turning into a tragic, true-life horror show.