After stories about cities and neighborhood making rules about Halloween, one Atlanta mom decided to bring the joy back to the holiday — and she started by deciding she will be the house handing out the full-size candy bars this year.
Kaitlyn Ross, a reporter for NBC affiliate 11Alive in Atlanta, told TODAY Parents that after covering a few negative stories about Halloween for her broadcast, she was ready for a change. "It was just bumming me out that a holiday that’s supposed to be about fun was turning into people complaining," she said.
"15? 16? 17? Come to my house, you get a candy bar ... Not from around here? Come to my house! You get a candy bar!... Is your kid nonverbal? Shy? Not in the mood to talk to a total stranger? They get a candy bar! Does your child have a dairy allergy? No problem, I got some Skittles."
"The city that banned trick or treating after the age of 14 is what started me thinking about it," Ross explained. "They wanted to cut down on vandalism, which I understand, but I was still trick-or-treating all through high school, and it didn’t seem fair that the kids there don’t get to do it. I think kids should get to stay kids as long as they can, and Halloween is a part of that."
Ross added that she has a lot of friends with children who have different abilities, and for their kids to be told they’re “too old” or to be expected to be able to say "Trick-or-treat" in order to participate when it’s difficult for them is "really upsetting. I think all kids of all abilities should be able to enjoy Halloween without restriction," she said.
The house that gives out full-sized candy bars
It was with this in mind that Ross — who has one son, Declan, 2, with her husband Patrick — found herself at the grocery store before work one morning. "I saw one of the HUGE candy bars, and it got me thinking," she said. "I remembered how excited everyone would get to go to the house that handed out the full-sized candy bars when I was growing up and thought it would be amazing to be able to spread that joy as an adult."
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Ross ultimately opted not to buy the 5-pound Hershey bar she first spotted, but when she found a good deal on a few boxes of full-sized chocolate bars and Skittles, she decided to go big. "I thought would be a blast to hand out on Halloween," she said.
Ross took a picture of herself with the candy and posted it on her Facebook page. "I’m going to do it! I’m going to be the house that hands out the big candy bars at Halloween this year," she wrote. "Why? Because it’s JOYFUL! And I am so sick of hearing about the Halloween haters."
Ross wrote, "15? 16? 17? Come to my house, you get a candy bar. I know a lot of full grown adults who deserve a candy bar, too!... Not from around here? Come to my house! You get a candy bar!... Is your kid nonverbal? Shy? Not in the mood to talk to a total stranger? They get a candy bar without having to say a word! Does your child have a dairy allergy? No problem, I got some Skittles."
"This is supposed to be about FUN!" she said. "If you don’t like the holiday, or can’t afford to hand out candy, or just don’t want to talk to a bunch of strangers all night? That’s totally fine, too! Just turn your light off as the universal symbol of, 'Move along, kids. No candy here.'
"Let’s stop making kids feel bad for wanting to dress up like their heroes one night a year," she added. "If they come to your door, just give them the candy bar!"
The post has been shared on Facebook 68,000 times so far. "The feedback has been hysterical and really unexpected. I love hearing from people about their wonderful Halloween experiences and their memories from growing up. I’ve had a lot of people ask for our address!" Ross laughed.
Ross is also doing what she can to make Halloween fun for her own little boy. Declan is dressing up as a firefighter this year, and Ross and her husband are dressing up as his flames. They made a fire truck out of his stroller.
For Declan, though, the jury is still out on this Halloween business.
"We went to the local trunk-or-treat event this weekend and he HATED trick-or-treating!" Ross said. "I think he is still a little young for it. But we spent all day Sunday together just having a great time, and making a big deal out of it, and that’s what I hope he remembers: that his parents love him very much and wanted to make the day magic for him — and hopefully not remember the part where he cried hysterically after seeing someone in a T-rex costume!"
Like most moms, Ross said sometimes holidays can make her feel like she isn't doing enough or giving her kid the best possible experience. "But I try to remember that as long as we are together, that’s the part he’ll remember," she said. "That and the candy!"