ONW: Ohio Elementary School Cancels Halloween

To be honest, this article ended up in Ohio News of the Weird simply because I don’t have a page for Ohio News of the Sad.

Jon Hood, Principal of Bexley’s Maryland Elementary School, has taken it upon himself to cancel the annual Halloween celebration at his school. The other two Elementary Schools in Bexley are still planning to continue their planned Halloween festivities. Hood, however, plans to replace his with a November “Fall Fest”, which would include square-dancing and a service project. Now how scary is that?

–from Bexley City Schools Website

Hood cites several reasons for the proposed switch, including the fact that each year, about 10% of families keep their children home from school on Halloween due to:

  • religious reasons
  • they did not have the money to buy their children a costume
  • their children have “suffered nightmares” after seeing “too-realistic spooky outfits”

Let’s be honest; those reasons are pretty lame. Over the years, I have given presentations and even helped coordinate school Halloween parties. The best way to address the idea of children not being able to afford a costume or “spooky outfits” is to simply have a non-scary theme. Schools have often based their theme on popular books and/or movies that were not scary at all (Dr. Seuss, for example…although some of his stuff is kinda creepy). As for the children who can’t afford costumes, they can have a “starring role” as a narrator and have them read stories to the kids. Or they could put on a skit and the child could help with the scenery or do something else behind the scenes. Or how about this; have an old-fashioned Halloween party where ALL the kids have to draw and make their own costumes?

--via Zazzle
–via Zazzle

As for the “religious reasons”, while I don’t want to turn this blog into a religious debate, I have to admit that I find that the silliest reason of all. I grew up in the Hudson Valley, in the heart of Sleepy Hollow country and I dressed up in all sorts of spooky costumes as a kid. I was also blessed to live in a time when Trick Or Treating was ALWAYS on Halloween and, get this, lasted as long as kids wanted it to! That’s right, there was no 2-hour window with which to gather our treats. If Halloween happened to fall on a Saturday, it was an all-day affair that lasted well into the night. Know those obligatory scenes in every Hallloween-themed movie and TV show that has a group of masked kids walking down a dark, leaf-covered sidewalk screaming out “trick or treat”? That was me.

And you know what? Through it all, Halloween was always about one thing and one thing only; having fun. Usually, that fun came in the form of pillowcases full of candy, but sometimes it was from hiding in the bushes and jumping out to scare the heck out of a friend. Or maybe watching a scary movie at home with my family. And at no point, did I ever think “hey, this Halloween stuff is fun and all, but it really isn’t complete unless I do a bit of conjuring or perform a satanic ritual or two.”

You might be saying “times have changed” and that I’m out of touch with what children’s Halloween parties. But I do have a daughter. And even though Courtney is only 3 years old, I am already well-acquainted with what goes on at these Halloween parties. It’s usually a quick march around the school so the kids can show off their costumes and then a whole mess o’ cookies and other treats. Admittedly, these festivities are kind of silly, but I’ve only missed one of them. It was when Courtney was only 4 months old, so I didn’t think there would be any sort of party for her. When I found out later that they had dressed Courtney in her costume and put her in a stroller at the front of the parade, I cried because I’d missed it. And since that moment, I have kept my promise to never miss a single one of my daughter’s Halloween parties. It’s become a tradition. A tradition that I’m sure Principal Jon Hood would call spooky. To which I would counter “but it’s not as spooky as square-dancing.”

Uh oh, hot dog!--Courtney's very first Halloween costume
Uh oh, hot dog!–Courtney’s very first Halloween costume

As of this writing, parents of Maryland Elementary School have started a petition to try to save Halloween. You can view it here.

Read The Columbus Dispatch’s article on the proposed ban here.



Late Friday evening, October 11th, parents of Maryland Elementary School students began receiving an e-mail from Principal Hood, stating that the annual Halloween festivities would indeed take place this year. Plans for the square dancing Fall Festival were being put on hold. Hood’s e-mail read, in part: “it has been determined to offer a traditional Halloween celebration for this year.”

The Columbus Dispatch was unable to reach Hood for comment regarding what exactly led him to overturn his initial decision, although his e-mail does mention that he had significant discussion with all constituents in the Maryland learning community.” My guess is they all told him that a party featuring square dancing was far more frightening and disturbing than any Halloween party could ever be.

So there you have it: Halloween has returning once again to Bexley, Ohio!

Read the full Columbus Dispatch article by clicking here.


3 Thoughts

  1. Great story! Anyone can afford a costume. Just grab an old sheet! Or wear old clothes and be a bum (with a dirty face of course). Now you can even get a costume at a dollar store. Just plain silly I think.

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