Optimized400PumpkinPumpkins, both vegetable and plastic, were gathered recently at Menotomy Rocks Park. / Photo courtesy Kathleen M. Fink

UPDATED: Arlington had a chilly Halloween night and then a professional-development day at Arlington Public Schools on Wednesday. That means no classes for students that day, which presumably gives them more rest, but, one hopes, not more candy-gorging (please see advice below about that).

In hopes that all will have a good experience, here is a quick guide to safe celebrating and other news-you-can-use related to All Hallows Eve.

 A good overview for anyone venturing out on Tuesday, costumed or not, comes from a major regional medical center. The Arlington Police Department posted similar reminders on the town website.

 The basic common-sense advice remains the same as in the past. Trick-or-treaters should dress warmly and ensure that they can see and walk unimpeded. Using flashlights will make them less likely to trip on uneven sidewalks, and, along with reflective tape or glow sticks, will make them more visible to cars. They should walk, not run, and stick to sidewalks and crosswalks. The APD emphasizes that pedestrians of any age should not dart out between parked cars -- and that drivers should be aware that they may do so anyway, and to therefore drive slowly and be extra aware.

 Cars: potential major hazard to youngsters

 In general, drivers should expect some lapses in impulse control among pedestrians and be extra cautious when traveling local roads Tuesday evening. Children are more likely to be hit by cars on Halloween than on any other night of the year, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

 Older kids who want to trick-or-treat with friends and without parents need to be equipped with both a fully charged cellphone for emergencies and also the willpower not to be distracted by it the rest of the time; that advice, of course, applies also to parents accompanying younger children.

Residents who would like trick-or-treaters to visit their homes should leave outside lights on and clear away tripping hazards. Pets should stay inside for their own welfare and for others’ safety.

Non-food treats can make Halloween much more welcoming for children with food allergies; ideas are here >>

Pre-Halloween events 

 For late afternoon, Tuesday, Oct. 31, organizers have planned the annual get-together at Waldo Park, 65 Waldo Road in East Arlington. For children and their parents, those who wish will gather at 4:30 p.m. for a costume fashion show at approximately 5 p.m.  Following that, a light dinner of hot dogs and "veggie items" is planned to be served before dark, an email from a member of Friends of Waldo Park said.

Another option for Oct. 31, also in East Arlington, is a playground gathering followed by a Halloween parade promptly at 5:30 p.m. at Magnolia Park, 42 Herbert St. at Magnolia Street, according to an email from a member of Friends of Magnolia Park.

The aftermath: recycling candy and, especially, pumpkins

A responsible adult should look through any trick-or-treaters’ haul before any of it is consumed. As any parent knows, expectations about how much candy kids are allowed to eat per day and when are best discussed in advance. 

 For those willing to part with some candy, Arlington Orthodontics will pay $2 per pound, up to $10, and ship it to troops serving overseas. They say that they will also make matching donations to Arlington elementary schools’ PTOs. Candy can be dropped off at the business office, 800 Mass. Ave,. from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Friday, Nov. 3, and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4.

 Several elementary schools plan to compost no-longer-needed pumpkins; they cannot go into yard waste, and keeping them out of landfills reduces methane emissions. One place to drop them off (free of paint and bling) is the Hardy School parking lot at 52 Lake St., before 1 p.m. this Friday.

But Hardy is not the only such site, according to Rachel Oliveri, school sustainability coordinator, Arlington Public Schools, who noted that school-based recycling is meant for school families and who described other options for other residents.

"Our event, called the Great Pumpkin Rescue, is happening at all the Arlington public elementary schools this Thursday and Friday [Nov. 2 and 3]. This is the seventh year of the event, which diverts thousands of pounds of pumpkins from the trash to [instead] be composted with Black Earth Compost, who also collects the lunch food waste from the schools.

"[Great Pumpkin Rescue] is specifically for families of students at the schools, as we don't have the capacity to make it a townwide event. [Non-school-affiliated] residents are instead encouraged to compost their pumpkins through backyard composting -- or a curbside subscription service as outlined here in this Zero Waste Arlington article," Oliveri said.

Finally, the Mass Audubon Society describes how carved pumpkins aka Jack-o'-lanterns might be transformed into bird feeders.


 Sept. 28, 2023: SpookyWalk, long-running pre-Halloween tradition, took place Oct. 28


This account by YourArlington freelance writer Catherine Brewster was published Oct. 30, 2023. It was updated Oct. 31, 2023, to add more information about environmentally friendly ways of recycling pumpkins.