Trick-or-treatless in the Berkshires
Residents of rural towns must mobilize to get their Halloween fix
Since moving to Mount Washington, Sarah Kenyon and her husband, Cord, have built a family and a home. Now, the parents of two young boys — 4-year-old Lochlan and 2-year-old Ryland — are aiming to add something else to their mountainous, sparsely populated town: trick-or-treating.
"We're trying to start the tradition," Kenyon said Thursday.
While Mount Washington has undoubtedly had the occasional candy-seeker during its history, the town of roughly 150 is one of several Berkshire municipalities that hasn't had formal trick-or-treating hours for years due to some combination of a low population density, a scarcity of children or a large second-home demographic. Some of these towns, such as Sandisfield and Savoy, host "trunk or treat" events in which cars congregate in one area, a makeshift neighborhood of sorts for trick-or-treaters to find loot. Otherwise, their parents would need to drive them from house to house, a daunting, potentially futile journey.
"I've lived here for 22 years, and I've never had one single kid come here," Kevin Dubis said Thursday of his home on Adams Road near the Savoy Mountain State Forest.
This year's "Trunk R Treat" in the northern Berkshire town was set for Saturday, Oct. 19, in the town park. Sandisfield's is on Halloween from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the American Legion.fa
Tyringham does something a little different. Every year, trick-or-treaters meet at the town park before hopping into a hay wagon that transports them to participating homes. (Families sign up at the post office.) Pizza, pinatas and cider have all been part of past festivities. Organizer Marion "Terry" Clark doesn't know exactly when the hayrides started, but it's been decades, at least.
"I know my kids loved it so much," she said, noting that her youngest is 38.
Clark has lived in the town since 1976. She cited the distance between homes in Tyringham and the town's older population as reasons for the hayride, which will feature two wagons this year and depart around 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26.
"There are very few children," Clark said.
That is also the case in Mount Washington, one of the towns that usually doesn't have any Halloween programming planned. Select Board member, emergency management director and acting police chief Brian Tobin said that it's been a handful of years since he's seen any trick-or-treaters in Mount Washington. Those in costume might head off the mountain instead.
"It's kind of a shame," he said.
But this year will be different. The arrival of the Kenyons, as well as a couple of families with babies, means change is afoot on the mountain. Kenyon spearheaded an Easter egg hunt in April, and now she's making sure that her children have a proper Halloween.
"They've given our town a real jolt of much needed energy," Tobin wrote of the Kenyons in an email.
Tobin is helping spread the word that families should leave their lights on if they would like to give Lochlan and Ryland some treats. He might, for example, raise it at Monday's Select Board meeting.
"This town is going to make Halloween happen for these two kids," Tobin said Thursday.
For the past couple of years, the Kenyons have visited with friends on what Sarah calls her "favorite holiday." This year, she's hoping for a lengthier itinerary, one that allows for face time with more of their beloved neighbors.
"It's just such a special community up here," she said.
Like Mount Washington, Alford and Peru have traditionally been trick-or-treatless, which is unfortunate for the Peets of Peru.
"We're a very Halloween family," Shannon Peet said.
The mother of 8-month-old Silas, 6-year-old Sean, 8-year-old Sophia and 20-year-old Bryce brings her clan to Hinsdale, Dalton or Pittsfield for the holiday. They enjoy these trips, but they're inconvenient.
"It's a pain," she said.
Peet first moved to Peru when she was 10. She remembers when the town had trick-or-treating. It didn't go so well.
"There was only like three kids that would come," she recalled.
Town Clerk Kim Leach, whose family once held a Halloween party after the town's own spooky shindig disappeared, had a similar recollection.
"Nobody came out," Leach said. "They would go to other towns."
Benjamin Cassidy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @bybencassidy on Twitter and 413-496-6251.