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From the Publisher’s Desk – Disguise brings perfect reward

By Keith Whitson

I had eagerly awaited this night. In fact, I had played out the role in my mind at least a dozen times over the past few days and weeks.

The deed was to be carried out after dark. Isn’t that how it usually goes? My hopes were that it would be successful, maybe even more so than the times before. You see, this wasn’t my first time, but it was my first time at playing this particular role in the matter.

My accomplice was prepared as well. She knew the area better than I did, so I was relying solely upon her judgement. We had a lot of territory to cover as night settled in. I was pumped with excitement for my share of the stash I would come away with.

I assumed my role and we exited the house. We had a driver that would take us close to the destination but the remaining approach would be up to us.

We hopped out quickly and began to walk. My breathing became intense. In fact, it was getting faster and faster with every step I took. The night air was brisk but sweat was still running down my face from the enclosure of the disguise. I had come too far to turn back and I couldn’t risk taking the disguise off to expose my true identity.

As I approached the door, it swung open. There I stood, looking up at the stranger. It was time to put the plan into action. “Trick or treat,” I said. “Oh look, it’s Spiderman,” she exclaimed, as she put a handful of candy in my plastic, Jack O’lantern bucket.

Halloween is once again upon us. As of now, I have been invited to three Halloween parties and probably won’t attend any of them. Halloween, as an adult, is not the simple task of putting on a plastic face held in place by a rubber band strap. Let me also say, those rubber bands can be painful when a wad of hair gets tangled in them.

Halloween isn’t what it used to be when I was a kid. Costumes were simple and neighborhoods were safe and trustworthy. Now parents pick neighborhoods they are familiar with to let their children out.

Clowns were not fearful beings who hid behind bushes or lured children into the woods. I grew up with Freddie the Freeloader on TV. Freddie was a clown skit included in Red Skelton’s comedy routines.

My first clown introduction was Bozo. In fact, I think I had a stuffed Bozo the Clown. It was important to add “the clown” reference in his title, even though I knew of no other Bozos.

Later generations grew up with the McDonald’s clown. The origin of Ronald McDonald actually involves Willard Scott, a local radio personality at the time, who also played Bozo the Clown on a  Washington, D.C. channel from 1959 until 1962. In 1963 he performed using the name “Ronald McDonald, the Hamburger-Happy Clown” on three separate television spots. These were the first three television ads featuring the character.

Scott, who went on to become NBC-TV’s Today Show weatherman, claims to have “created Ronald McDonald.” Over the years, McDonald’s has gone back and forth with retiring the clown image and currently have taken on the approach of keeping Ronald low profile due to all of the scary clown sightings.

I must say that I am not so fond of clowns myself. As a child they were a little strange to accept, but they make no sense to me as an adult.  They usually have frowns painted on their faces and seem like they are hiding something dark and mischievous. Maybe I have seen too many horror movies. One horror movie is too much for me.

It seems like no matter how much you yell at the screen, the ridiculous actors never do the right thing. They have a chance to get in the car and drive away, but they don’t. They go ahead and enter the room where they  hear a noise. They go down in the basement with no lights on. Have these characters never seen a scary movie?

I don’t think I will ever become prey to a clown or a spook. I’ve seen too much on TV and in movies. I definitely won’t look for it. One noise in my house and I’m out the door.

It turns out Halloween is the second highest grossing commercial holiday next to Christmas.  It is estimated that this year will set an all time record for Halloween spending.

There are 171 million Americans expected to celebrate the holiday. The average spending per buyer is expected to be around $82.93, with a total spending by Americans of $8.4 billion.

With the watch care of the Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department and the Erwin Police Department, Unicoi County should be in good hands for making this Halloween a great experience for the youth. Various churches are doing the trunk or treat event and downtown Erwin will once again close part of Main Street and offer plenty of candy and fun.

I think I will dress up as Santa this year. That could be confusing. Or, better yet, Santa wearing a clown face. I may cause some samhainophobia, the fear of Halloween. Hopefully some kids will drop their candy and it will be mine for the taking.