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What to do when a neighbor has a good idea?

I got an email from my friend and neighbor a few weeks back. It went something like...

"I was thinking it might be fun for the kids to have a little Halloween parade. A really simple one, basically like a walk around the block in costume. Like they do in, you know, other neighborhoods."

I act without thinking sometimes, to my credit and fault. I hit reply on a note that went something like..."sure, sounds great. The parade can start at our house."

Off the bat, I am a sucker for this stuff. I love Halloween and have dragged my barely cognizant costumed children to such parades in "other neighborhoods." 

Then I started thinking. Just the fact that it was a good idea didn't necessarily mean I had to offer up my house and help. Like everyone else, I'm quite busy.

But the things going for us included:
- a known quantity of toddler-to-elementary school age kids within radius.
- some energy and connections thanks to park organizing and a recent Tenney Lapham Neighborhood Association meeting and dinner.
- a bit of neighborhood pride rising to challenge the notion that other east-side Madison neighborhoods are more cozy places to raise kids.

I figured it was easy enough to gather in one spot, move en masse to another, and call it a parade. I was happy to send a few emails!

Then I remembered that our front yard was a pit of mud. The sidewalk had recently been removed and we lacked any immediate plan for replacing it. The front steps were also gone, meaning our porch hung two feet from the ground and the mail carrier pitched our mail in a rubber-banded bundle toward the door.

What the hell, I went for it anyway. 

So, of course, it rained. And I lost track of time and got harried. But isn't Halloween always chaotic and nuts. I think that is part of what I love (along with wearing and seeing people in wigs).

The really simple little Halloween parade was awesome for reasons I didn't anticipate. I got another email just hours after the parade, after kids were in bed, from another friend and neighbor that went something like...

"I just wanted to say thanks for organizing the Halloween parade. It was lots of fun and even though the weather wasn't ideal, just having a bunch of kiddos trick-or-treating at the same time in the same area made things more festive, friendly and fun for kids, parents, and those handing out treats."

At go-time, I was still inside getting my kids dressed. The doorbell rang and my daughter answered it, ready to hand out candy. Outside, we saw the sidewalk full of people. The parade was waiting for us.

I was a little stunned, but I shouldn't have been. Despite the rain, parents I knew and many I didn't were there with little and bigger kids, some in strollers, some in wagons, all in costume, all ready to go. We "paraded" the short distance to the end point, ate cupcakes, drank beer and tried not to poke each others eyes out with our umbrellas.

Then the trick-or-treating began. And the area was alive! Clumps of kids ran, parents helped with steps and said Thank You. I ate candy bars and drank beers and felt good about it all. In past years, we barely saw another family out and had very few rings at our doorbell. This was a big change.

Which goes to show that if it's really not that hard to help, why not say yes to other people's good ideas. And it's not just because I want them to help me make my good ideas happen. If I'm going to live here, I want to have fun here. I want my kids to have fun here. And I want to get to know my neighbors, their kids, and their Halloween styles.


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