GLOUCESTER — It’s trick-or-treating time, and for the second year in a row, Mother Nature has decided to go with “trick.”
A year after a freak October nor’easter dumped record snow on parts of Massachusetts, forcing many communities to postpone trick-or-treating for the first time in recent memory, Hurricane Sandy is threatening to disrupt Halloween festivities.
While the brunt of the hurricane is expected to be gone by Wednesday, power outages, flooding, and downed trees could remain, leading to conditions that could prove dangerous to young children stumbling around in masks.
Gloucester, a city with storms in its DNA, chose to get ahead of Sandy and moved its annual trick-or-treating to Sunday evening.
The move garnered mixed reactions, from disappointment to understanding to I-don’t-care-as-long-as-I-get-candy.
“I think a lot of people are just going to end up going to other towns on Halloween,” said Laurie Bolcome, as she got her three children ready to head out Sunday in what was already damp, rainy weather in Gloucester. She expected fewer children would be out, and probably fewer houses ready to deliver sweets, but said, “I work for a dentist, so it’s OK with me.”
For some Gloucester parents, having Halloween three nights early meant scrambling to get costumes ready.
The decision to move trick-or-treating up was announced by Mayor Carolyn Kirk on Friday.
“It threw me off a little,” said Michelle Barton, as she prepared to knock on doors with her 6-year-old son, Atticus, who was dressed as Robin Hood. “The bow and arrow we ordered won’t be here until tomorrow.”
Last year, as word went out in more than 20 Massachusetts communities that trick-or-treating would be postponed, there was considerable consternation among children (though most got a snow day).
In Lexington, after Police Chief Mark Corr made the call to cancel trick-or-treating last Oct. 31, some kids accused him of “stealing Halloween,” according to Sergeant Michael Tuomi.
A few days later, when the trick-or-treating went ahead, the chief was sure to load up on candy for the kids who stopped by the police station — and he dressed up as the Grinch.
In Worcester, which also postponed trick-or-treating last year, the power went out in the Halloween Outlet on the busiest day of its year, so employees were using battery-powered strobe lights to show customers around.
“It was extra spooky,” said Christine Arvanigian, whose family has run the Worcester emporium for three decades.
The strangest impact of last year’s storm, Arvanigian said, was that because so many weekend Halloween parties were snowed out — the snow fell on the weekend; Halloween was on Monday — many of their adult customers are simply using the costumes they did not get to wear last year.
Paul Cohen, the town manager in Chelmsford, said the town simply had no choice last year.
“We had 80 percent of the town without power. It wasn’t safe. The kids wouldn’t have known which houses to knock on because the lights were out. We would have gotten more grief if we had gone the other way.”
In Wrentham, which moved its trick-or-treating to Nov. 4, some parents simply took their children to neighboring communities on the 31st, then loaded up on sugar and chocolate again when Wrentham held its festivities.
As 5-year-old Dermott Amorim put it at the time: “We can double trick-or-treat!”
And a delayed Halloween was not all bad news for adults either as after Oct. 31, stores famously cut the prices on their candy.
But as trick-or-treating got underway in Gloucester on Sunday, more than a few people felt it was simply wrong to have Halloween on the 28th of October.
“Halloween should be on Halloween,” said Susan Parent, the owner of the popular Main Street toy store, Toodeloos! “I’m not a fan of moving it. Ever.”
As she said this, Jay McBain, who was shopping in the store with his 7-year-old daughter, Olivia, had a confused look on his face. He had no idea that trick-or-treating had been moved.
“I guess we’re clueless,” McBain said. “So come Wednesday, we’ll see what happens.”
And he was not the only one who had not gotten the word.
Dawn Murdock, who was taking her 5-year-old granddaughter, Lily Genest, around in her Tinkerbell costume, said they had stopped in at a few businesses.
Only one was prepared with candy.Billy Baker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @billy_baker.