Smash pumpkins, break hearts in East Lansing schools

October has something that sends people straight to the poor house. A stupid little thing called Halloween. What was once a simple occasion has blossomed into the second largest annual retail event, with consumers throwing in a cool $ 10 billion for this year’s celebrations – including the mandatory candy, decorations, pumpkins, party favors, and all sorts of sundries. Like toilet paper.

Which probably explains why there wasn’t a roll on store shelves this past weekend.

But a third of the spending this year is on costumes. Cutting a few holes in a sheet of paper – so you can trick or treat as Charlie Brown – is no longer enough. Instead, people are spending $ 3.3 billion dressing up Fido as a pumpkin – they’re in too much of a hurry to wait for a stagecoach to turn into one at midnight – kids as Spider-Man and adults as witches. Because nothing says Halloween like putting on a black hat and cape, jumping on a broom and flying straight into a telephone pole.

It’s no laughing matter.

Nor is the letter from a group of East Lansing elementary school principals mailed to their little guy’s parents a few days ago. Halloween celebrations, the administrators said, were too traumatic for impressionable young ghosts to cope with. In fact, some parents have made it a point to keep their kids at home instead of reducing them to trembling crumbs at the sight of their best friend coming to class in a Batman outfit. With the stroke of a pen, these modern Scrooges abruptly canceled all planned parties and activities. And not just for this school year.


It all boils down to justice, inclusion and unintended consequences, they said. There is no longer any room for outdated traditions such as sweets and costumes. Since some families don’t celebrate Halloween – or want their children around someone to do so – it’s better to ditch the whole thing rather than risk being hit with a lawsuit. Also, how are children supposed to memorize the timesheets and remember who won the Battle of Kookamunga when they are paralyzed by cucurbitophobia – the fear of pumpkins? That will not happen.

And it’s not Valentine’s Day at schools in East Lansing either.

Yes, also remove February 14th from the list. Celebrations that focus on “love” and swapping cards that read “Be Mine” give insane to many kids. And no wonder. The lifelong devastation of playground affections reciprocated is too horrific to imagine. Not to mention the inevitable drama in the classroom and teasing everything that has to do with the heart. You’re sure to fail second grade. And spend the next 70 years feeding at the public trough.

But vacation-free zones are undoubtedly just the beginning of the Little Red Schoolhouse Redo.

Is there anything more demoralizing than being the last kid chosen to join the Red Rover team? No question. Break has to go. Ditto for those high-calorie, obese meals the midday lady serves up every day. From now on it’s just a healthy diet. Of dream sandwiches and rubber cookies that don’t rebound. You’d better throw away the curriculum as well. Because no matter how hard they try, some people just aren’t able to conjugate verbs or reduce fractions to the lowest common denominator.

And we can’t afford to ruin their self-esteem, can we?

Well, we made it this far with these do-gooders from East Lansing. So we’re sending the Ghosts of Halloween Past, Present and Future to visit tonight. And if they don’t see the light, we have an ace in the hole.

The evil twin of the big pumpkin.

Be forewarned. He’s the most convincing.

Talk Back with Doug Spade and Mike Clement is available every Saturday morning from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Buzz 102.5 FM and online at and

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