This year, Halloween falls on a Saturday night. How perfect for hours of costume prep before skipping door-to-door for candy.
Therefore, it takes no Mayan calendar expert to realize that the night before Halloween is a Fridayâ€”which actually means very little to most of the country. But for a few unruly teens, the start to the weekend might be extra occasion for buying toilet paper in bulk or as many cartons of eggs as they can feasibly carry.
Here, weâ€™re talking about tricks, not treatsâ€”October 30, the once popular night for pranks and minor vandalism around American neighborhoods.Â Yet, one comprehensive survey found that 74 percent of respondents didnâ€™t have a word for the eve before Halloween at all.
Most frequently, itâ€™s called Mischief Night, especially in pockets of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Connecticut. In Michigan, itâ€™s known as Devilâ€™s Night. In the Midwest, itâ€™s sometimes referred to as Gate Night, a throwback to when pranksters opened farmersâ€™ gates to let their livestock roam free. Less popular still is Cabbage Night in Vermont and New Hampshire, where teens once left rotten vegetables on the doorsteps of the rich in one version of class warfare.
The night has witnessed all forms of creative vandalism over the years, including anything from more innocent acts like forking yards with plastic utensils, egging or soaping cars, depositing rotten lunchmeat in mailboxes, smashing pumpkins and â€œding-dong ditchingâ€ doorbells; to the more obscene, like setting off fireworks, power-bombing cars and spray painting buildings. Though most of the pranks can be filed under harmless fun, Devilâ€™s Night in Detroit was once notorious for its ties to gang culture and acts of arson. In 1984, more than 800 fires set ablaze led to a citywide curfew for minors. A decade later, in 1995, city officials called for volunteers to patrol their neighborhoods and campaigned that the nightâ€™s name be changed to â€œAngelsâ€™ Night.â€ To date, an average of some 40,000 residents still hit the streets on the nights before and after Halloween.
Just two years ago, a New Jersey police department was still enforcing a zero-tolerance policy for children leaving the home dressed in dark clothing in possession of items for defacing property, including eggs, spray paint or paintball guns. Juveniles out doing damage would be arrested and charged.
But again, since it seems that most serious vandalism has abated and the majority of Americans arenâ€™t actually familiar with October 30 as anything other than the night before they eat lots of candy, thereâ€™s probably not much for you to worry about this coming Halloween. But, thereâ€™s always an outside chance that mischievous behavior can escalate out of control.
To be safe, bring your pumpkins inside and pull your trashcans into the garage. Leave your outside lights on. Make sure that your standard homeowners and auto insurance policies are up to date, so youâ€™re covered for any potential damage to your residence or permanent structures on your property, as well as for the personal liability exposure that arises from owning a house or car on a Friday or Saturday night in late October.
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